The Cincinnati Bearcats capped off a successful season at Nippert Stadium Saturday night with a 49-38 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. They improved to 5-1 on the season at home with their only loss coming in week two against Temple.
It was senior night for the Bearcats as senior wide receiver MeKale McKay led the receiving core with 101 receiving yards and 6 receptions. McKay wasn’t alone, as the top ranked offense in the American Athletic Conference tallied up 654 total yards on a Tulsa defense who has struggled all season long. Gunner Kiel threw for 386 yards on 29-42 passing with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Michael Boone led the Bearcats in rushing with 137 yards on 18 carries for 3 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran finally got some balance on offense as they rushed for 268 yards on the ground and threw for 386 yards. The only negative takeaway offensively was they had three turnovers, but other than that the offense pretty much had a field day on this night.
Defensively the Bearcats gave up 588 total yards to the Golden Hurricane. Eric Wilson led the defense with 14 total tackles and senior defensive end Silverberry Mouhon had perhaps his best game of the season with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. All season long an achilles heal for the defense has been creating turnovers, but the Bearcats flipped that trend tonight. They forced three Golden Hurricane fumbles and created points off those turnovers. Defensive Coordinator Steve Clinkscale's group has a long way to go, but Saturday night’s performance was a major step in the right direction.
Overall the Bearcats played a balanced football game. It was an emotional night as 18 seniors played their final game at Nippert Stadium. The energy in the stadium was evident and the team fed off that all night long. Whenever a big play was made the entire sideline was excited cheering their teammates on.
Now sitting at 6-4 the Bearcats have two remaining games on the road against South Florida and East Carolina. They have struggled to win on the road this season with a record of 1-3. It will be important for this team to stay focused and close out the season on a high note. Players and coaches have talked about winning out to get to 8-4 on the season before a possible bowl game. If the Bearcats continue to perform like they did on senior night with a balanced performance on offense and defense they shouldn’t have any issues winning out to get to 8-4 on the season.