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Cincinnati 38, Houston 23

HOUSTON - Luke Fickell described No. 25 Cincinnati's fourth-straight victory as "not the prettiest thing in the world."

The Bearcats (5-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) used a 21-point first half to pull away early and Perry Young's late 2-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed a 38-23 road victory over Houston.

"Nobody thought this was a trap game," Fickell said. "This is obviously a very good football team with some guys down and some guys that are redshirting. But they have a lot of talent. You can tell they have a lot of fight. Our guys fought back and, in the end, they had the ability to battle through some of those adverse situations."

Desmond Ridder finished 14 of 24 for 263 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Ridder also had 11 carries for 50 yards and a score.

Trailing 21-10, Houston quarterback Clayton Tune, who was very limited in practice the past two weeks, re-energized the home crowd with a career-long 69-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Stevenson to start the second half.

"I thought Clayton, for not repping for two weeks, actually hung in there and did some good things," Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. "He's our starting quarterback."

The Cougars (2-4, 0-2) cut the lead to five with 9:09 left on Tune's 6-yard pass to Christian Trahan, but it wasn't enough to prevent Houston's first 0-2 start in conference play since 2002, when the Cougars were in Conference USA.

"Came up short," Holgorsen said. "We had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. A couple of bad calls I thought prevented us from being able to get the ball back and go score. It is what it is, you have to deal with it.

"Some bright spots but overall just happy with the guys and the way they played. Happy with the way they fought. Nobody's happy about 2-4 and we've lost to four pretty good teams and we expect to be a good team as well."

Tune finished 9 of 27 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

"I felt like I wasn't able to be an effective runner like I normally am," Tune said. "I was kind of limited to just staying in the pocket, but we had a gameplan to work around it. I just have to play better."

To close the third quarter with Houston trailing 21-17, Ridder ran 14 yards before he was shoved out of bounds and fell into the Cougars' kicking net. Cincinnati's Armaud Willis-Dalton was called for unnecessary roughness. Holgorsen could be seen yelling at multiple officials after the call.

"It was a very, very critical point of the game," Holgorsen said. "We didn't do a good job of rebounding and holding them to a field goal after that happened, which is disappointing."

Associated Press


October 12, 2019

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