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Bearcats Out-muscled in 10-3 Loss

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights knocked off the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday afternoon, delivering a crushing blow to the Bearcats’ Big East Championship hopes.

Rutgers’ sophomore running back Javon Huggins ran for 152 yards, quarterback Gary Nova added 186 more through the air, and the Knights came away with a 10-3 win despite scoring on only one of their four redzone trips.

The Bearcats (7-3, 4-2 Big East) came into Saturday’s game with a newfound sense of confidence on offense after piling on 34 points against the Temple Owls just one week ago.

But the Scarlet Knights (9-1, 4-1 Big East) had other ideas, nearly shutting out the Bearcats.

The Bearcat offense wasn’t completely overmatched. In fact, at one point the Bearcats moved the ball into Rutgers territory on four consecutive possessions (six tines total). Still, each and every time Rutgers found an answer for their attack.

“On offense we didn’t win first down,” said Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. “We were off schedule all game long. We weren’t able to possess the ball on third downs which is obviously critical.”

The Bearcats’ best chance to score came in the third quarter but the drive stalled when running back George Winn was stopped short on fourth-and-inches inside the Knights’ ten-yard line.

The play was run from the shotgun formation, a decision head coach Butch Jones addressed after the game.

“They were running a double eagle defense which prevents the quarterback sneak and prevents you from running between the tackles,” said Jones. “You need to be able to make those plays and get those first downs.”

On defense the Bearcats struggled to slow down a run-heavy Rutgers offense that managed to rack up 420 yards despite missing its main cog in running back Jawan Jamison.

“On offense we didn’t win first down,” said Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. “We were off schedule all game long. We weren’t able to possess the ball on third downs which is obviously critical.”

Jamison did carry the ball 4 times, but it was sophomore back Savan Huggins that carried the bulk of the load. Huggins In total, Rutgers ran 47 running plays gaining 234 yards.

The effective ground attack allowed the Scarlet Knights to keep possession of the ball for more than 37 minutes.

“Time of possession is a byproduct of getting off the field on third downs and we just weren’t able to get off the field when we needed to,” said Jones.

Despite their struggles on defense, the Bearcats managed to hang around thanks to two redzone interceptions thrown by Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova and a Jordan Stepp blocked field goal late in the third quarter to keep the deficit at seven.

That was as close as the Bearcats would get.

On their next possession, Rutgers connected on a field goal to go in front by two scores.

On the following drive, the Bearcats used two sacks and a false start to put themselves in a 4th-and-25 situation. The ensuing conversion attempt failed, effectively ending any hope of a comeback.

Tony Miliano did connect on a 36-yard field goal to avoid a shutout, but those three points did very little to sooth the pain of what may have been the Bearcats’ toughest loss under head coach Butch Jones.

The loss drops the Bearcats firmly into third place in the conference, while Rutgers moves into a tie with Louisville atop the Big East standings.

The Bearcats now face a short week of preparation before welcoming in South Florida next Friday night.

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