The game got started with a much-needed defensive stop from the Bearcats, forcing an early USF punt and putting the ball into the hands of the Cincinnati offense. UC was not able to move the ball on their opening position, being forced to punt on a three and out of their own. However, Bearcats punter Pat O'Donnell boomed a 65-yarder, pinning the Bulls deep inside their own territory. A pumped up Cincinnati defense was able to force the first turnover of the game on USF's ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the Bearcats inside the USF 20-yard line. After a first down run that was stopped for no gain, quarterback Brendon Kay scrambled out of the pocket and into the end zone for the first score of the game.
The second quarter saw the Bearcats ramp up their offensive production while continuing to play shut down defense. After exchanging punts for most of the quarter, Cincinnati put together their most effective drive of the game, an 11-play, 81-yard effort that culminated in a three-yard touchdown pass from Brendon Kay to tight end Travis Kelce. The emergence of Kelce the past few games has been a revelation for the UC offense, opening up the middle of the field and giving Kay the safety net he desperately needed. After a missed Tony Miliano extra point, UC went into halftime up 13-0.
The second half started with the longest drive of the day for the USF offense. The 10 play, 65-yard drive ended in a 25-yard field goal from Maikon Bonani, putting the Bulls on the board. With the score at 13-3, UC went into a pretty conservative offensive game plan for the rest of the quarter, relying heavily on the rushing attack of George Winn and short to intermediate throws from Kay. The one exception came at the end of the third quarter when Kay hit receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on a slant that Thompkins took 48 yards to put the Bearcats inside the USF five-yard line. George Winn then finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown plunge, putting UC up 20-3 going into the fourth quarter.
UC began the fourth quarter with a beautiful six play, 66-yard drive that ended in George Winn's second touchdown of the game, all but ending USF's hopes for their elusive second Big East win. The Bulls were, however, able to add a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter, a five-yard run by Demetri Murray, but the game was out of reach at that point. Throughout the game, things were noticeably chippy between the two teams, and it nearly escalated to an all-out brawl at the end of the game. A USF player made a tackle into the Cincinnati sideline, got up and start shoving Bearcat players, resulting in both teams nearly coming to blows. However, both coaching staffs did a solid job of defusing the situation and getting both teams to the locker room before things got out of the hand. Besides the end of game dramatics, the night belonged to the seniors, specifically Winn and Kelce. Both players have been key cogs in the Cincinnati offense this season and it was wonderful to see both guys go out with great games, and most importantly, a win.
The Bearcats travel to Storrs, Connecticut next Saturday to take on UConn in the last game of the 2012 season.