For Miami fans, the Victory Bell is starting to resemble a word-that-rhymes with bell and starts with an h.
After jumping out to an early 10-0 lead in the 124th game against arch-rival Cincinnati, the RedHawks watched the Bearcats score 28 unanswered points on the way to a 35-13 win on Arch Carson Field at Nippert Stadium.
Cincinnati (2-1), coming off a 42-0 loss at Ohio State the previous Saturday, extended its series-record winning streak to 14 games and narrowed to one Miami’s lead in the overall series. The RedHawks will take a 59-58-7 lead into next year’s matchup, scheduled for September 19, 2020, at Yager Stadium in Oxford.
Before a home crowd of 35,526, the Bearcats also maintain their stranglehold of the Victory Bell, which goes annually to the winning team, while piling the most points by either team in the series since they scored 37 in 2015.
Each of Miami’s first four games against Cincinnati with Chuck Martin as coach ended with one-score margins, but the Bearcats followed up last season’s 21-0 win with another comfortable win on Saturday.
“I thought we played well in the first half – very solid and physical,” Martin said. “Our running game was effective. In the third quarter, we played lousy football and got what we deserved.”
Running back Tyre Shelton scored Miami’s only touchdown, Sam Sloman added field goals of 41 and 36 yards and senior defensive back Travion Banks came up with interception in the third quarter, but junior running back Michael Warren II scored two first-half touchdowns and broke free for a 73-yard score in the third quarter and third-year sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder threw two third-quarter touchdown passes while Cincinnati was scoring four touchdowns in a stretch of five possessions.
The Bearcats more than doubled Miami’s total offense, gaining 420 yards to the RedHawks’ 207 and running 78 plays to 58.
Miami true freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert, making his third career start, completed his first six passes and finished 10-of-17 for 143 yards.
“We came out a little slow after halftime, and they took advantage,” Gabbert said. “We’ll have to learn from the film, and get ready for Ohio State.
“We lost the Bell. This is the 14th straight year, I think. That’s unacceptable.”
The two teams combined for 18 penalties, 11 by Cincinnati, and 170 yards.
Ridder found senior tight end Josiah Deguara open in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown connection on Cincinnati’s first possession of the second half and added a 51-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Geddis streaking wide open down the left sideline with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
Miami senior offensive right tackle Mike Skibinski had to carted off the field with an injury early in the third quarter. Two other offensive linemen, left guard Pete Nank and left tackle Tommy Doyle, also were knocked out of the game.
“We lost three offensive linemen,” Martin said. “That hurt us in the second half.”
The RedHawks, who slipped to 1-2 overall and 0-2 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, are scheduled to meet No. 6 Ohio State next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium in Columbus before opening their Mid-American Conference schedule against defending East Division-champion Buffalo at Yager Stadium in Oxford on Sept. 28.
The RedHawks were without junior running back Jaylon Bester, but three other juniors – middle linebacker Ryan McWood, wide receiver Jack Sorenson and tight end Andrew Homer – all returned from injury to log extensive playing time.
Shelton, a redshirt freshman from Douglasville, Ga., picked a great time to score his first collegiate touchdown. Shelton dove one yard and Sloman made the point-after kick to giver Miami a 7-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first quarter.
The touchdown was Miami’s first in the series since Kenny Young scored on a one-yard plunge with 9:55 left in the third quarter of Cincinnati’s 21-17 win in 2017.
Gabbert in the first half went 6-for-6 for 94 yards, including one to junior wide receiver Dominique Robinson for 42 on third-and-nine from Miami’s 39, but he coughed up the football while being sacked on the next play and the Bearcats recovered.
Gabbert also was called for intentional grounding late in the first half, which officially is recorded as a sack and helped set up Warren’s second 1-yard touchdown run, which helped give Cincinnati a 14-10 lead with 10 seconds left before halftime.
“Every rep I get – every game I play – is a learning experience,” Gabbert said. “I hope I learn from my mistakes.”
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