Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Memorable Bearcat Games: Cincinnati 30 Rutgers 11

Today's memorable Bearcat game is the November 18, 2006 victory against Rutgers. I think it's safe to say that this was Mark Dantonio's finest hour as Cincinnati coach. He would springboard to Michigan State just one game after this, so this victory was pretty huge. It was also pretty huge because at the time, Rutgers was ranked in the top 10, and undefeated. The Scarlet Knights were coming off an epic victory over undefeated Louisville, while the Bearcats were coming off a loss at West Virginia. Starting QB Dustin Grutza was injured, giving way to first time starter Nick Davila. The stage was set for success.

The first snap Nick Davila took, he fumbled. Rutgers couldn't capitalize. Jeremy Ito, who beat Louisville with a last second FG, missed from 31 yards. The Bearcats went on an 11 play drive that resulted in a field goal of their own, as Kevin Lovell was true from 32. The Scarlet Knights high powered rushing attack was held in check, and QB Mike Teel was pretty bad early. That resulted in quick possession. UC took over at their 20. 10 plays later, led by the sharp Davila, UC would score a touchdown. Davila took it in himself from 1 yard out. Nippert Stadium was in a frenzy. The big play on that drive was a 38 yard pass from Davila to Derrick Stewart to take the ball down to the 2.

Rutgers quickly bounced back on their first drive of the second quarter. Ray Rice started breaking out for some yards. Teel hit James Townsend to with a pass to get the ball to the UC 29. After a couple 4 yard runs by Rice, DeAngelo Smith did this
Adam Hoppel got pressure on Teel, wrapped him up, causing Teel to throw a desperation pass. Don't believe me?

That made the score 17-0. The lead would be short lived however. The Bearcats forced a 3 and out. On the punt, Antoine Horton fumbled the kick, allowing Rutgers to get the ball at the UC 25. The defense held firm, allowing a 34 yard FG by Ito to make it 17-3. The teams traded 3 and outs. UC took over with 2 minutes to go in the half, and were content to run the clock out. After a first down, it looked like they would. But, Doug Jones coughed the ball up trying to make something happen at the UC 21. Rutgers had 12 seconds. Teel went for the end zone, and was intercepted by Mike Mickens to close out the half and leave things at 17-3.

Rutgers made a big comeback the week before against Louisville, so there was cause for concern in this match up. The Bearcats punted to start the half, and Rutgers marched down the field. With the ball near mid field, Teel took a shot deep. Once again, it was Mickens who picked him off at the UC 10. Davila converted a 3rd and 6 by hitting Dominick Goodman for 19 yards. The next play, he hit Butler Benton for 62 to get the ball to the Rutgers 4. The Bearcats were stoned at the goal line, but another Lovell FG (20) made it 20-3.

Rutgers got good field position on the kick return, but couldn't get the ball past their 44. The punt went to the 17. UC took over and iced it with this:

Fans smelled the upset. Overrated chants flew from the crowd. The good times for UC continued the very next Rutgers drive. After moving the ball to the UC 41, Teel was picked for the 4th time, this time by Anthony Williams. Cincinnati picked apart the demoralized Rutgers defense for a 7:30 drive that went 16 plays 47 yards. It ended with a 27 yard Lovell FG to make it 30-3.

Rutgers took 3:29 to march down the field and score, as Ray Rice poked it in from 1 yard. Rice became the single season rushing leader for Rutgers in this game, even though he only had 54 yards. Teel hit Taquan Underwood for the 2 point conversion. UC didn't do anything on their drive, and only took a minute off the clock. The last ditch effort by Rutgers failed, as Teel, 21-42 238 0 TDs 4 INTs, was off target. UC worked the clock leading to this.

Davila was 11-15, 277, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD. Greg Moore had 16-56 to lead UC on the ground, while Brent Celek led UC in yard with 83. UC's defense was the story though. Despite 3 turnovers, UC forced 4. They held Rutgers to 288 total yards. The third best rushing attack in the nation had but 50. It was a spectacular win for Cincinnati, and was one of the victories that has led the springboard to success. That's why this is a memorable Bearcat game.

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