The Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Southeastern Missouri Redhawks on Saturday by a final score of 70-3. The win pushes the Bearcats record to 2-0 on the season as they prepare to shift their attention to their toughest challenge of this young season, a road trip to Corvallis on September 19th to take on Oregon State.
The seventy points scored by the 'Cats marks the third highest point total in Bearcat history. For those of you wondering, the most points ever scored by a Bearcats football team came back in 1912 when the Bearcats laid 124 points on Transylvania (KY).
It's hard to get a lot out of a win like this, but quarterback Tony Pike said after the game that the biggest thing for them was just to get back out on the field after a short week.
"The biggest thing was just getting out here and getting back into it," said Pike. "You can't take any teams lightly. It wasn't just a team we knew we were going to come in and roll over, but at the same time we just wanted to come in and execute our stuff."
The Bearcats jumped out to an early lead in this one thanks to a 53-yard punt return by senior wideout Mardy Gilyard. Gilyard came into this season regarded as one of the top receivers in the country, and it doesn't appear as if he is going to disappoint. On top of his punt return touchdown, Gilyard accounted for three other scores. He scored on a 1-yard rush, and scored twice on receptions of eight and 37 yards, giving him 4 touchdowns in the first half of play. According to STATS, LLC, the last player to score via a rush, a reception, and a punt return in the same game was UCLA's Maurice Jones-Drew in 2005. Gilyard finished the game with 6 catches for 111 yards.
Gilyard talked after the game about Coach Kelly's trust in him, and added a few thoughts on this year's team.
"I'm just glad coach trusts me to put me in all those different situations and keep defenses guessing," said Gilyard. "This team, in my opinion, is special. No disrespect to our team last year; we won the Big East; but this team is a special team."
But the Bearcats offensive production doesn't end with Gilyard. Senior quarterback Tony Pike finished with 229 yards and 3 touchdowns in less than one half of play before he was eventually replaced by backup Zach Collaros. Outside of Gilyard, Pike's favorite target was Armon Binns. Pike hooked up with the junior wideout 4 times for 77 yards.
The Bearcats rushing attack was lead by Jacob Ramsey. The senior carried the ball 7 times for 69 yards. He also caught one pass from Pike that resulted in a touchdown. One other Bearcats running back made an impact, but this time it was in the return game. Darrin Williams returned the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for the score, pushing the Bearcats lead to 53.
The Bearcats defense was once again stellar. They limited SEMO to less than 200 yards of total offense, and outside of one SEMO scoring drive (a field goal), they were nearly flawless. Aaron Webster, Dominique Battle, and Andre Revels each recorded one interception for the Bearcats. Robbie Armstrong, who has been a monster on special teams, led the Bearcats with 6 tackles.
The Bearcats now look forward to a 6:45 p.m. matchup with Oregon State next Saturday, which will surely provide the toughest challenge yet for this Bearcat squad. So while a victory is always sweet, you can bet that Brian Kelly will have his boys right back in the film room and on the practice field just as soon as he can.
"We're looking forward to challenging our team," Coach Kelly said after the game. "Going out west and playing top a 20 team. It's going to be a challenge for our team. And then we come back the next week and play Fresno State. So these next two weeks are going to challenge our football team."