The Cincinnati Bearcats (5-0. 1-0 Big East) took care of the Fordham Rams on Saturday night, winning 49-17 in what would be their final tune-up as they head into the meat of their schedule next week.
This was a good win for us,” said Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones after the game. “We’re 5-0. We had a much better second half than we did first half. We were able to score on every possession in the second half and I thought we had a lot of guys step up and make big plays for us as the game went on.”
The Rams, a last second replacement for TCU after the Horned Frogs elected to spurn the Big East in favor of the Big XII, came out firing on offense as they looked to surprise a sleepwalking Bearcat team playing in front of a laid back home crowd.
The Rams were able to move the ball from the onset, but failed to sustain any success as the game went on.
Led by senior quarterback Ryan Higgins, the Rams led an impressive opening drive that saw them quickly cross midfield and put the Bearcats in trouble early.
However, after converting on fourth down and one from the Bearcat 19-yard line, disaster would strike.
On the very next play, quarterback Ryan Higgins put the ball on the turf after Dan Giordano caught him on his blind side. Bearcat cornerback Devan Drane scooped up the loose ball and took it 79 yards for a score as a deflated Fordham sideline looked on
After the Rams were able to tack on a field goal on their next possession, the Bearcat offense finally got its first crack at a possession with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter.
They wouldn’t disappoint.
After two George Winn runs netted six yards for the Bearcats, Munchie Legaux completed his first pass of the game to Travis Kelce who sprinted 78 yards down the sideline en route to a touchdown and an 11-point lead for the Bearcats.
The rest of the half saw both offenses struggle to put points on the board
In the second half, the Bearcats got off to a quick start on offense. A Munchie Legaux touchdown run from 8 yards out capped a 9-play, 79-yard drive and gave the Bearcats a 21-6 advantage.
On their next possession, the Bearcats would score again – this time on a Ralph David Abernathy the IV touchdown run from 36 yards out to give them a 28-6 and open up a little breathing room against a feisty Fordham squad.
The Bearcats would put the game out of reach on their next possession when Jordan Luallen scored to cap off a 5-play, 26-yard drive, giving the Bearcats a 35-6 lead as the third quarter drew to a close.
After Fordham answered with a touchdown of their own, the Bearcats would come right back with another score. This time it was Danny Milligan on the receiving end of a 29-yard Munchie Legaux touchdown pass to put the Bearcats back up by 28.
Brendon Kay would also get in on the act, scoring his first career touchdown on a one-yard quarterback keeper as time ran down in the fourth. The Bearcats scored on each of their second half possessions.
The Bearcats were led on offense by quarterback Munchie Legaux who completed 15 of 24 passes for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Tight end Travis Kelce caught 3 passes for 101 yards including his 78-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The touchdown, the longest of Kelce’s career, also marked the longest scoring play of the season for the Bearcats.
Danny Milligan also continued his recent explosion, finding the endzone for the second straight week. In total, seven different Bearcat receivers had receptions on the night.
Running back George Winn tallied 75 yards on 13 carries for the Bearcats, while Ralph David Abernathy IV pitched in with 5 carries for 51 yards and a score.
On defense, the Bearcats struggled for most of the first half, often relying on Fordham to commit mistakes as opposed to forcing the issue and getting stops of their own.
In the second half, the defense improved. Still, much was left to be desired as the Bearcats head towards the more difficult portion of their schedule.
“In the first half we didn’t go a good job of getting off the field, especially on third down,” said Butch Jones. “In the second half I thought we did a much better job. I think it’s the nature of Fordham’s offense and the way they run it.”
“Our football team has little margin of error. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Delaware State, Fordham, or Louisville. We aren’t good enough to come out and not play at our absolute best.”
Next up for the Bearcats is a road contest against the Toledo Rockets, winners of six straight. After that, the Bearcats finish the season with 6 consecutive Big East games, including a meeting with Louisville in two weeks.