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(Saturday, September 26th)
Final Score: (14) Cincinnati 28, Fresno State 20
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Tony Pike threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, leading 14th-ranked Cincinnati to a 28-20 victory over Fresno State at Nippert Stadium.
Pike connected on 18-of-26 passes and found Mardy Gilyard nine times for 177 yards and two of those scores. Cincinnati (4-0) ran just 42 plays to 84 for Fresno State and the Bulldogs had a sizeable advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for more than 43 minutes to just over 16 for the Bearcats.
"I wouldn't say it's frustrating because as an offense, we know our defense will come through," said Pike. "We are in sync and we pick up where we leave off really well. As an offense, you want to be on the field, but for us, we don't get bothered. We rally around our defense."
Ryan Mathews ran for 145 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries for Fresno State (1-3), which has lost three straight after a season-opening win against UC Davis. The Bulldogs racked up 290 yards on the ground and outgained Cincinnati 443-357 for the contest, but penalties and turnovers early in the second half killed a pair of promising drives.
"He's the leading rusher in the nation, so we're going to work him," said Fresno State coach Pat Hill. "We've got a real good running back at Fresno State, so don't miss out on that fact, and he hasn't been playing against I-AA teams. We're going to run him, and he's our horse. In this game, we needed to run the ball a lot more than pass it. You've got to run the ball against a seven-man front, and we did. It's hard to throw against two-deep, so we ran the ball, it played right into our hands, they couldn't stop the run, and we controlled the clock."
Fresno State trailed 21-17 at the intermission and reached the Cincinnati 36 on the opening series of the third quarter, but penalties for holding and an illegal block eventually forced a punt. The Bulldogs next marched from their own 35 to the Cincinnati six, but the 7 1/2 minute possession ended with an interception by Craig Carey on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati, which had the ball for just one minute in the third quarter, followed the interception with a 71-yard drive for a touchdown. Pike connected on 4-of-5 throws during the six-play set and finished it with a 23-yard strike to Gilyard for a 28-17 advantage with 13:09 remaining.
Kevin Goessling kicked a 49-yard field goal just five minutes later to pull the Bulldogs within eight and Fresno State got the ball back inside its own 10 after a punt with 3:55 to play. A 33-yard run by Lonyae Miller helped the Bulldogs cross midfield, but Ryan Colburn's fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the final minute and Cincinnati ran out the final seconds.
Colburn completed 16-of-27 passes for 153 yards with a touchdown and an interception in defeat. Miller finished with 77 yards on 10 carries for Fresno State.
The Bearcats marched 77 yards in seven plays after the opening kickoff to grab a 7-0 lead, as Pike carried twice for 22 yards and connected with Ben Guidugli for a 33-yard touchdown pass.
Fresno State answered with a drive into Cincinnati territory, but had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from Goessling and the Bearcats again marched down the field for a touchdown with their next possession. Pike hit Gilyard for 56 yards to set up a first down at the six and, after a delay of game penalty on third down, found Gilyard in the back of the end zone from 11 yards away to make it 14-3 with just under six minutes to play in the opening period.
After a trade of punts, Fresno State drove 85 yards in 12 plays to pull within four. A 29-yard run by Robbie Rouse on 3rd-and-4 kept the series alive on the last play of the first quarter, and a quarterback sneak by Colburn converted 4th-and-1 before Rouse broke free for 15 yards to set up a first down inside in the five. Mathews followed with a three-yard run, then dove over the top from a yard out for the score.
Cincinnati answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive. Pike hit Gilyard three times for 49 yards during the march and Isaiah Pead added a 15-yard run before capping the nine-play series with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 21-10.
Fresno State responded with an 80-yard march that ate up all but the final seven seconds of the half. The Bulldogs converted a trio of third downs and one fourth down during the 17-play dirge, which concluded with Colburn's 21- yard scoring toss to Jamel Hamler, sending Fresno State into the break down just 21-17.
This was the first meeting between the schools...Cincinnati has won eight straight at Nippert Stadium...The Bearcats will visit Miami-Ohio next Saturday...Fresno State is idle next week before a visit to Hawaii on October 10.
09/26 17:28:31 ET