November 24, 2019 / 3:40 AM / 15 days ago

No. 19 Cincinnati tops Temple to clinch AAC East

Sam Crosa kicked two field goals, Coby Bryant returned a blocked extra point for two points, and No. 19 Cincinnati edged visiting Temple 15-13 on Saturday night to win the American Athletic Conference’s East Division title.

Nov 23, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) throws a pass against the Temple Owls in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The title was the first in Cincinnati history and puts the Bearcats (10-1, 7-0 AAC) in the conference’s championship game on Dec. 7.

Michael Warren II rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries for the Bearcats, who won their ninth consecutive game.

Owls quarterback Anthony Russo passed for 228 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Temple (7-4, 4-3) won the yardage battled 310-210 but failed on a number of crucial special teams plays.

The senior Crosa — the hero in UC’s last-second wins over East Carolina and South Florida this month — curled in a 36-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead at 13:14 of the second quarter.

The biggest play in the first half occurred with 1:15 left and the Owls punting deep inside their own territory. Punter Adam Barry had to kneel to field a low snap, and his knee touched the turf, giving possession to Cincy at the Temple 6 on a turnover on downs.

But the Owls’ defense stiffened and forced a 37-yard boot by Crosa for a 6-0 Cincinnati lead.

The offense came to life on the opening drive of the second half to spring the Bearcats to a 13-0 lead.

Warren finished off a nine-play, 65-yard drive by dashing in from 13 yards out on a scoring drive that took 4:13.

Temple kicker Will Mobley — successful on his previous 11 field-goal tries — pushed a 32-yarder wide right to keep his team scoreless.

The Owls worked their way to the UC 18 late in the third, but linebacker Perry Young stuffed Jager Gardner for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1 for another turnover on downs.

Re’Mahn Davis scampered 7 yards for a Temple score with 11:19 left, but Bryant returned a block of Mobley’s PAT the distance to make it 15-6.

Russo lobbed a 16-yard score to tight end Kenny Yeboah with 6:59 left to trim the deficit to 15-13.

Crosa missed from 40 yards at 2:41, giving Temple possession at its 23, but defensive back Darrick Forrest intercepted a long pass to secure the win.

—Field Level Media

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