Greg Ward Jr. looked a little rusty in his return action on Thursday night but in the end Houston got just enough out of their Heisman Trophy candidate to leave Cincinnati with a 41-16 win in a game that had a little bit of everything.
And when we say everything, we mean it.
A safety. A double reverse with a fumble boomeranging back in bounds. Back-to-back pick-sixes. A reverse flea-flicker. Goal line interceptions. Long touchdown passes. Huge goal line stands.
All in a day’s work during the AAC opener for both teams.
Ward threw two interceptions and took a number of big hits during a shaky first three quarters but rallied in the fourth to help the Cougars pull away and keep their slim College Football Playoff hopes alive. The quarterback finished the night 24-of-36 for 326 yards and a touchdown on the night but did most of his damage on the ground (73 yards, two scores) scrambling for big plays.
Though the final score didn’t indicate it, Tommy Tuberville’s team was in the contest for most of the night thanks to the Bearcats’ active defense. They harassed Ward on nearly every play in the pocket and limited Houston to just 3.5 yards per rush. Linebacker Antonio Kinard was all over the field in particular, racking up 18 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups.
Cincy’s offense however, failed to show up — especially in the final quarter. Quarterback Hayden Moore threw two interceptions and backup Ross Trail added another for a team that did the bulk of their damage on just four plays but was otherwise ineffective.
Amazingly the Bearcats actually took the lead right at the beginning of the fourth quarter to make things interesting. Houston responded like the potential College Football Playoff contender they are by scoring 28 unanswered to make the final score a laugher however.
Like we said, a game with just a little of everything on a wild Thursday night.