No. 25 Cincinnati holds off Houston late to win 38-23

ABC News Sports 2 days ago

Desmond Ridder passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns and No. 25 Cincinnati held off Houston's late surge to beat the Cougars 38-23 on Saturday.

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 their fourth straight win.

"Nobody thought this was a trap game," Cincinnati coach Luke 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."

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 re-energized the home crowd with a career-long 69-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Stevenson to start the second half.

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

THE TAKEAWAY

Cincinnati: A week after forcing four turnovers against Central Florida and limiting the Knights to their fewest points in 2019, Cincinnati's defense shined again. The Bearcats had four interceptions to run their season total to 13 and forced a fumble to help hold Houston to a season-low 23 points.

Houston: With D'Eriq King redshirting the rest of the season, Houston has been seeking his permanent replacement for this year. Tune, Bryson Smith and Logan Holgorsen all got playing time. Tune started, Smith was brought in to run the wildcat formation and Holgorsen got his first playing time in the first quarter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Cincinnati should move up with No. 23 Memphis losing to Temple on Saturday and No. 20 Virginia losing to Miami on Friday.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: The Bearcats return home Oct. 19 to face Tulsa.

Houston: The Cougars travel to UConn on Oct. 19 for the teams' first meeting since 2016.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25


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