By Michael Marot
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Desmond Ridder threw the go-ahead touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, then scored on a 7-yard TD run to help No. 8 Cincinnati seal a come-from-behind 38-24 victory Saturday at Indiana.
Jerome Ford ran for two scores and Tre Tucker scored on a 99-yard kickoff return as the Bearcats (3-0) won their first road game of the season. They’ve won 12 of 13 since the start of 2020.
Indiana (1-2) lost despite taking a 14-0 lead — and playing in front of its largest crowd for a non-conference game since September 1987.
The turning point came when starting linebacker Micah McFadden was ejected for targeting late in the first half. The Bearcats, who struggled to move the ball, scored 10 points in the final 93 seconds of the first half and finally took the lead on Ford’s 3-yard TD run in the third quarter.
The Hoosiers regained the lead on D.J. Matthews Jr.’s 14-yard scoring run then gave it right back on the kickoff return. A missed extra point opened the door for Indiana, and the Hoosiers grabbed a 24-23 advantage on Charles Campbell’s 49-yard field goal late in the third.
Then Ridder got hot. He made it 30-24 with the scoring throw to Pierce before the scoring run and a succesful 2-point conversion pass.
Cincinnati: Coach Luke Fickell was worried about this season’s first road trip — and with good reason. The Bearcats had five false starts and two turnovers in the first half. But Cincinnati righted itself then scratched out a critical victory for in their playoff quest.
Indiana: McFadden’s ejection changed everything for a defense that was dominant. Add the Hoosiers’ early inability to score in the red zone, three turnovers and it was the perfect concoction for a loss.
Cincinnati: The voters may dock the Bearcats for lacking style points, which could cause them to slide a little — but not too far.
Indiana: The Hoosiers needed a win to return to the rankings. Their next chance could come in two weeks.
Cincinnati: Ridder was 20 of 36 with 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran 10 times for 45yards and lost a fumble. ... Pierce had five receptions for 86 yards. ... Linebacker Darrian Beavers left briefly in the first half but forced and recovered a fumble to stop one Indiana scoring threat and sacked Michael Penix Jr. to start Indiana’s second-to-last possession.
Indiana: Penix was 17 of 40 with 224 yards, two TD passes and three interceptions. He’s been picked off three times in each of the Hoosiers losses. ... Stephen Carr rushed 21 times for 52 yards and scored on 5-yard TD reception. ... Matthews had five receptions for 120 yards, the second 100-yard game of his college career. ... Peyton Hendershot caught six passes for 60 yards and one TD.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have a bye week before visiting No. 12 Notre Dame on Oct. 2.
Indiana: Visits Western Kentucky next Saturday.