Miami (OH) just can’t ring the bell.
The RedHawks lost their 14th consecutive matchup against crosstown rival Cincinnati on Saturday, allowing the Victory Bell to remain in the Bearcats’ facilities for another year. Despite a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, Cincinnati’s offense broke through before halftime and Luke Fickell’s team finished off the RedHawks, 35-13.
Miami’s defense entered Nippert Stadium on a mission. The unit forced two three-and-outs stops and held the Bearcat offense to -19 yards on the opening two drives.
Meanwhile, the RedHawks were grounding the ball to running back Tyre Shelton. The workhorse back earned four-straight carries by the goal line and punched one in to give Miami an early 7-0 lead. The RedHawks extended the advantage to 10-0 on a 41-yard Sam Sloman field goal near the end of the first quarter.
The sleeping bearcat quickly woke up. Cincinnati was held to zero points in an offensive struggle at Ohio State last week, but Desmond Ridder quickly regrouped the gang once Miami jumped to a double-digit lead. Ridder mounted a 77-yard drive against the Miami defense and finished it by handing off to his halfback Michael Warren for an 8-yard touchdown.
Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert started out hot. The true freshman completed his first six throws, including a 42-yard strike to Dominique Robinson to re-enter the red zone. But once Miami arrived to the destination, Gabbert suffered a brutal sack and Cincinnati recovered the fumble. While the Bearcats’ offense failed to take control with a score, they slowly won a field possession battle in a punt-off.
Just before halftime, Cincinnati finally upended Miami on the scoreboard. Ridder set Cincinnati up into RedHawk territory with several quick passes, and once again, Warren reaped the benefits with a 1-yard touchdown, 10 seconds prior to halftime.
In the second half, Miami’s defensive foundation crumbled. Cincinnati’s offense looked sharper than it did in its previous two outings, and it involved a bit of gambling. On a critical 4th and five, Ridder extended the lead to 21-10 on a 27-yard touchdown strike.
And Ridder was just warming up his arm. His next touchdown was a 51-yard, perfectly placed bomb to Thomas Geddis down the sideline. Geddis had an extra step on the Miami defender, and the touchdown vaulted Cincinnati to an 18-point, three-score lead.
Miami only struck once in the second half on Sloman’s second field goal of the day. But Cincinnati permitted a field goal and responded with its most impressive touchdown of the season. Warren broke several tackles and avoided another with a spin at the line of scrimmage, then bolted to the end zone on a 73-yard sprint.
Warren put the finishing touchdowns on Cincinnati’s annual rivalry win and capped of a personal 113-yard, 3-touchdown day. While the RedHawks forced Ridder to suffer from inaccuracy in the pocket (14-of-30 passing), it was the inability to stop Warren which ruined Miami’s chances.
On the other side of the ball, Gabbert shined as a passer in the first half. He resorted to tougher throws in the second half but still displayed plenty of potential completing 10 passes on 18 attempts for 143 yards. The ground game did not perform as well, averaging 1.6 yards per carry against a Cincinnati defense — which was renowned for stifling running backs in 2018.
For Miami, now it must go on and challenge the team which shut out Cincinnati, 49-0, a week ago. At 1-2, the RedHawks’ difficult non-conference slate continues at Ohio State next Saturday.