Whether it was the wind-driven, drenching rain or the stiff defense played by Cincinnati or a combination, Miami’s offense was little more than a rumor at Saturday’s 123rdedition of the two schools’ “Victory Bell” grudge match.
The result was distressingly familiar to RedHawk fans. Darrick Forrest’s interception and return to the Miami one-yard line early in the fourth quarter set up Michael Warren II’s second touchdown of the game, virtually sealing Cincinnati’s 13thconsecutive win in the series, 21-0, before a crowd of 16,062 that barely tested 65-535-seat Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati.
“It is frustrating, but winning the Victory Bell isn’t our goal,” said senior tight end Nate Becker, who had two catches for 14 yards. “Our goal is to compete and go as hard as we can.”
Cincinnati freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder threw the ball just 11 times, completing six for 45 yards and a tack-on touchdown with 3:21 left in the game while leading the Bearcats with 100 yards on 18 carries. That Cincinnati, which ran effectively while upsetting UCLA at the Rose Bowl in their opener, ran the ball didn’t surprise Miami, senior defensive tackle Nate Trawick said.
“They ran a lot against UCLA,” said Trawick, tied for third on the team with seven tackles. “We expected a lot of quarterback runs. We knew they’d run a lot and pass less, especially in those conditions.”
“The weather dictated things,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “We talked about how critical it would be to get the lead. We knew that whoever got the lead would have the advantage. The opportunities were limited for both teams. They made more out of their opportunities. We didn’t make the best of ours. It played out like we thought.,”
The Bearcats (2-0) narrowed Miami’s lead to 59-57-7 in the series that dates back to a 0-0 tie in 1888.
The 0-2 RedHawks finished with 198 yards of total offense after piling up 444 in the Sept. 1 35-28 home loss to Marshall. Ragland finished 22-of-41 for 139 yards and one interception. Senior running back Kenny Young had nine catches for 27 yards, while senior wide receiver James Gardner had seven catches for 80 yards, but Miami’s rushing attack squeezed out only 59 yards, led by Maurice Thomas with 21 yards on four carries.
Miami’s deepest penetration was to Cincinnati’s 29-yard line.
“We’ve got to run the ball more efficiently,” Martin said.
The shutout loss was Miami’s first since losing 58-0 at Wisconsin on Sept. 12, 2015. The shutout was the first in the series since Cincinnati’s 14-0 win Sept. 21, 2013, at Miami’s Yager Stadium.
Miami’s most effective player was junior punter Kyle Kramer, who punted 10 times for 386 yards – an average of 38.6 yards per punt – and pinned the Bearcats inside their 20-yard line four times.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Gus Ragland’s pass over the middle to sophomore wide receiver Jack Sorenson was tipped up in the air by middle linebacker Bryan Wright and grabbed by Forrest, who returned it 23 yards.
The RedHawks made it two games, two penalties on their first offensive play. In the opener, it was a false start. This week, it was delay of game as the play clock ran out.
Miami never got untracked on offense in the first half, finishing with just 86 yards of total offense, 22 on the ground. The Bearcats gained 142, 108 on the ground, including 78 by Ridder, including 39 on a 2nd-and-8 from Miami’s 48 that set up Warren’s two-yard plunge for the only first-half touchdown with 5:33 left in the first quarter.