Recap: Cincinnati vs. East Carolina
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Gunner Kiel threw for 436 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions as the Cincinnati Bearcats came back to defeat the East Carolina Pirates, 54-46, in an American Athletic Conference clash at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday.
Kiel attempted 44 passes in the game, completing 29 of them with a long of 66 yards. Mekale McKay hauled in nine receptions for 172 yards and a pair of scores for Cincinnati (6-3, 4-1 AAC), while Rod Moore rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the win, which was the fourth win in a row for the Bearcats.
Shane Carden completed 35-of-61 pass attempts in the game for 418 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead East Carolina (6-3, 3-2). Breon Allen gained 129 yards with a touchdown on 12 carries, while Justin Hardy caught 15 passes for 181 yards and a score and also rushed for a touchdown. It was the second defeat in a row for the Pirates.
Kiel gave the Bearcats their first lead of the ballgame when he connected with McKay on for a 55-yard scoring completion with 10:21 left to play in the opening quarter.
Warren Harvey sliced into the Cincinnati lead when he hit a 31-yard field goal with 7:02 left in the first for the Pirates, and then connected on a 23-yard boot with 4:47 in the frame to put ECU down by a single point.
Before the first quarter closed out, Kiel found Max Morrison for a 17-yard touchdown strike to extend the Bearcats' advantage to 14-6.
Andrew Gantz made it 17-6 for Cincinnati when the kicker booted through a 33- yard field goal with 12:42 left to play in the second quarter.
But the Pirates weren't about to be kept down. Marquez Grayson dashed for an 11-yard touchdown with 9:07 to play in the first half to cut the lead to 17-13, and then Hardy scored on a seven-yard run of his own with 7:36 left to give ECU its first lead of the game, 20-17.
The lead didn't last too long, however, as Kiel passed for his third touchdown with 5:27 left to play in the half. This time Kiel hit Chris Moore for a 66- yard touchdown, giving the Bearcats the 24-20 advantage.
Rod Moore put Cincinnati ahead by double digits with 1:30 left in the first half when he took a handoff into the end zone from two yards out. The Bearcats went into halftime leading, 31-20.
Cincinnati picked right up where it left off once the second half began. Mike Boone slashed into the end zone on a three-yard carry to give the Bearcats a 38-20 lead with 11:42 to play in the third quarter.
Allen put ECU's first points of the second half on the board on a 40-yard touchdown run with 10:51 left in the third frame, cutting Cincinnati's lead to 38-27.
Carden connected on his first touchdown pass of the game with 13:38 left to play in the contest. He found Hardy on an 18-yard scoring pass play that sliced Cincinnati's lead to 38-34.
With 4:47 left in the contest, Kiel found McKay yet again on a scoring completion, this one for 36 yards. The touchdown gave the Bearcats an 11-point lead heading into the final minutes.
East Carolina began to battle back. With 3:44 left in the game, Carden hit Cam Worthy on a seven-yard scoring pass to cut the lead to 45-40. ECU's ensuing two-point conversion failed, so the Bearcats' lead remained at five.
Following a Cincinnati turnover and several defensive pass interference calls, East Carolina took the lead when Carden kept the ball and carried it to the end zone from two yards out for the 46-45 lead. A second two-point conversion failed, and with just over a minute to play, ECU had its second lead of the game.
But it was Cincinnati that came away on top as Gantz slammed through a 47-yard field goal (his career high in terms of distance) with 15 seconds to play. For good measure, Terrell Hartsfield returned an ECU fumble 20 yards for a score as time expired to give the Bearcats a 54-46 victory.
Both teams were fairly even offensively, as Cincinnati gained 586 yards compared to 572 for East Carolina. Two missed field goals in the game for the Pirates really hurt in the end.Game Notes