Recap: Cincinnati vs. Syracuse
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - George Winn ran for three touchdowns and threw for one more, as the Cincinnati Bearcats held off the Syracuse Orange, 35-24, in a key Big East Conference matchup at Nippert Stadium.
Winn ran for a career-high 165 yards on 30 carries, and he even threw a second-quarter touchdown pass on a trick play. Backup quarterback Brendan Kay came off the bench and threw the go-ahead TD pass to Travis Kelce in the third quarter to help the Bearcats (6-2, 2-1 Big East) avoid a third straight loss. Starter Michael Legaux, who was intercepted five times over the previous two games, threw a first-half interception and was benched after nearly throwing another one in the third quarter.
Jerome Smith ran for 116 yards and a touchdown for the Orange (4-5, 3-2), who entered the weekend near the top of the Big East standings. Alec Lemon had seven catches for 101 yards and a score in the loss.
Syracuse return man Jeremiah Kobena lost a fumble on the game's opening kickoff. Cincinnati needed only four plays to capitalize, as Winn scored on a five-yard run to stake the Bearcats an early 7-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Syracuse took over possession at the Cincinnati 11 after the Bearcats' Anthony McClung lost a fumble on a punt return. Four plays later, Ryan Nassib scored on a quarterback sneak.
The Orange defense came up with an interception on the very next play from scrimmage, setting up a 24-yard field goal by Ross Krautman with 1:45 to play in the opening frame.
The Bearcats offense got the ball back and went right to work, as Winn found Kelce for a 37-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to put Cincinnati back on top, 14-10.
Syracuse regained the lead midway through the second quarter on Nassib's 14- yard scoring strike to Lemon, capping a 10-play, 89-yard drive.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the second half. Cincinnati claimed a 21-17 lead on Winn's one-yard touchdown run at the 10:53 mark of the third quarter.
The Orange went back on top, 24-21, on Smith's one-yard touchdown following an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
Later in the third quarter, Nassib was sacked by Chris Williams and lost a fumble at the Syracuse 15-yard line. Three plays later, Kay found Kelce for a 13-yard scoring strike to give the Bearcats a 28-24 advantage.
Cincinnati stretched its lead to 35-24 on Winn's third rushing TD of the day, this time from two yards out, in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Syracuse held a 24-23 edge in first downs and a slim 479-470 advantage in total offense, but things began to unravel after Smith's third-quarter TD. The next four drives for the Orange resulted in a fumble, a punt, a missed field goal and another punt.Game Notes