The No. 18 Houston Cougars survived a late scare by the Cincinnati Bearcats, and took a 33-30 win to extend their season winning streak to 9-0 in front of 32,889 screaming fans at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas on Saturday, November 7, 2015. The win also raised their American Athletic Conference record to 5-0 and sets up a battle against No. 15 Memphis on Saturday, November 14, 2015.
Houston jumped out to an early lead halfway through the first quarter when senior running back Kenneth Farrow capped a five-play, 20 yard drive for the score. Cincinnati was at their own 32-yard line and on a fourth-and-play, kicker Sam Garaci’s punt was blocked by cornerback Joeal Williams. The Cougars recovered, which set up the scoring drive. Farrow carried the ball the final two yards, and along with Ty Cummings’ extra-point kick, the Cougars took a 7-0 advantage into the second quarter. Farrow was quoted from the post-game press conference when questioned about Houston’s defensive performance.
“At the end of the day, we had more points on the other side. We were able to get a touchdown and a field goal up there towards the end. Like I said before, the defense really got us this one tonight; they really played lights out. They really got it done for us tonight.”
The Bearcats responded 49 seconds into the second quarter with a 25-yard pass from Gunner Kiel to Chris Moore for a touchdown. Andrew Gantz added the extra point to make the score seven-all. Houston took the ball on their next possession and used 2:44 to move the ball 79 yards in six plays. Greg Ward, Jr. connected with Chance Allen on an 11-yard pass., and along with another Cummings kick, the Cougars regained their seven-point lead. Cincinnati closed out the first-half scoring with a 74-yard drive to again tie the score with a seven-yard pass from Kiel to Nate Cole. The score was the result of four plays and lasted 1:36.
A scoring onslaught occurred in the third quarter when the Cougars scored two touchdowns; one of them a pass from Ward, Jr. to tight end Tyler McCloskey and the other on a 51-yard interception return by Brandon Wilson. Trevon Stewart also recorded a safety and Cummings added two of his extra-point kicks. The Bearcats closed out the third quarter with a Kiel pass to wide receiver Shaq Washington. Cincinnati opted to go for two points on the conversion, and were successful on a pass from Washington to Kiel. Going into the final 15 minutes of play, Houston held a 30-22 lead.
Cummings added three points to Houston’s total with a 29-yard field goal with 12:51 remaining in the game to give the Cougars a 33-22 lead. With a little more than five minutes left in the game, Kiel hit wide receiver Chris Moore with a 29-yard pass for a Cincinnati touchdown. The Bearcats were successful on the two-point conversion to cut Houston’s lead to three (33-30). With 2:10 left in the game, Cincinnati mounted a drive, attempting to get into field goal range and send the game to overtime. After advancing to their won 42 yard line, Kiel was incomplete on four consecutive passes to close out the game.
Houston will next face the Memphis Tigers in a key conference matchup at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 14 at TDECU Stadium. After the Cougars’ win against Cincinnati, Houston head coach Tom Herman discussed the preparation needed to face Memphis.
“We won’t change. We’ll stay the same and do what we do. We’re intense all day, every day. We’ll keep it up.”