Cole Smith scored a 34-yard field goal when time ran out to help Cincinnati No. 9 beat Tulsa No. 23 in Saturday’s championship game of the American Athletic Conference 27:24.
Desmond Ridder, who threw for one touchdown and rushed for another, responded to the Golden Hurricane touchdown late in the fourth quarter by marching the Bearcats across the field. The AAC Attacking Player of the Year caused Tulsa to jump offside in a 4-2 game, bringing Cincinnati closer before Smith drove the ball between the posts.
Ridder finished the game with 269 passes and 83 rushing yards to help the Bearcats (9-0) avenge a loss to Memphis in the 2019 conference title game.
Alec Pierce had five catches for 146 yards and one touchdown after entering the game with just nine receptions for 141 yards and one score in his last four games.
Jaxon Player blocked a Cincinnati field goal attempt to score a game with just over six minutes of play time. Sam Crawford Jr. picked up a 54-yard catch and JuanCarlos Santana had a 13-yard score to knot the score at 24 for the Golden Hurricane (6-2).
Tulsa tied at the start of the third quarter at 17 after Deneric Prince found the end zone 8 meters away despite the Bearcats having 12 men on the field.
Ridder responded by calling his own number and racing around the right side before stretching the ball over the goal line. His twelfth touchdown of the season and 22nd of his career gave Cincinnati a 24-17 lead, 7:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Pierce staggered with one hand and a 31-yard catch to set up Jerome Ford’s 42-yard run-right tackle and put the Bearcats 7-0 up in the middle of the first quarter.
Pierce had a 45-yard catch in the middle later in the quarter to set the stage for Smith’s 25-yard field goal.
Tulsa responded in the second quarter when Zack Long scored a 43-yard field goal and Corey Taylor II scored from 10 yards to finish the game at 10.
Cincinnati responded quickly, with Pierce beating 1-on-1 coverage for a 36-yard touchdown with 3:17 in the second quarter.
– Field level media