The turnover energized the struggling offense, allowing them to move the ball down the field with an efficiency they did not have on their opening drive. Unfortunately, the drive ended in a missed field goal, keeping the score at 0-0. The rest of the first quarter was a back and forth affair, with both offenses moving the ball well but failing to put points on the board.
The second quarter saw Cincinnati open up the passing game a bit, letting Kay air it out instead of focusing on the rushing attack that had been UC's bread and butter this season. The decision proved to be costly, as Kay threw an interception that stalled a solid drive by the Cincinnati offense. Rutgers took advantage of the turnover, scoring the only points of the first half on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Gary Nova to Mark Harrison. The Bearcats could have found themselves in a bigger hole if not for an interception by safety Dominique Battle in their own end zone late in the second half. With that turnover, UC went into the locker room down 7-0, the first time they have trailed at home all season.
The third quarter was more of the same for both teams. Cincinnati's defense struggled as Rutgers continued to pick up chunks of yards on the ground, allowing for short second and third downs for the Scarlet Knights. UC's offense on the other hand, kept with their second quarter strategy of attacking with their passing game. Similar to Rutgers, they struggled once they crossed midfield and went into the fourth quarter scoreless.
Early in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati saw their best offensive drive since the first quarter come up short as Brendon Kay threw a costly interception, one where he had a wide-open Travis Kelce streaking across the middle, which stalled any remaining momentum the Bearcats had built up on offense. Rutgers then proceeded to go on an energy-draining 12 play, 62-yard drive that ended in a field goal, pushing their lead to 10-0 and all but clinching the win. Cincinnati was able to end the shutout when they tacked on a late field goal with a nine play, 58-yard drive of their own. However, the Bearcats ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful and Rutgers kneeled to run out the clock.
The story of the game was the inability of the UC offense to put points on the board, not to mention the decision to go with a pass-happy offense against their traditional run first attack. Senior running back George Winn only had 11 carries on the day, whereas Kay threw the ball over 30 times, completing 17 for 251 yards and two interceptions. Going forward, this offense has to figure out their identity and stick with it. On defense, the Bearcats need to hunker down on their rush defense, they allowed over 250 yards on the ground today, and get their defense off the field with shorter drives. The D didn't play terrible today, in fact, without their turnovers, the score may have been worse, but the amount of big running plays they gave up allowed for extended drives by the Rutgers offense and drained the defense of their energy. The Bearcats need to shake off this loss and come out swinging next Friday against South Florida. Time will tell if they learned from this loss.