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Cincinnati beats RedHawks after Miami’s promising start fades to usual result

Cincinnati's streak and Miami's wait will continue for at least another year.

For the 14th consecutive season, the Bearcats (2-1) beat the rival RedHawks (1-2) in the Battle for the Victory Bell.

Miami hung around for the first half at Nippert Stadium Saturday, but the Bearcats broke the contest wide open with second-half points, winning 35-13.

"We just got blown out by a team that, at the end of the day, we can definitely hang with and definitely win against," freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert said. "The bus ride won't be fun. We've lost the Battle of the Bell 14 times in a row, which is unacceptable."

The RedHawks' first offensive play from scrimmage offered a grim omen on how the game would play out.

Redshirt junior center Danny Godlevske snapped the ball over Gabbert's head. The quarterback jumped and saved the ball with one hand but took a 2-yard loss. Three plays later, Miami's possession ended with a punt.

After the RedHawks forced a Cincinnati three-and-out, they started moving on offense.

They embarked on a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by redshirt freshman running back Tyre Shelton.

Following another Bearcats' three-and-out, Miami drew a pass-interference call on the first play of its new drive. The penalty pushed the RedHawks into enemy territory.

Miami gained its way to the UC 23, and senior kicker Sam Sloman drilled a 41-yard field goal to boost his team's lead to 10-0. That score held until the second quarter.

"We were able to make a few big plays, and that was crucial," Gabbert said. "Anytime you make a big play, you can go up-tempo. They struggled with that in the first half, keeping up with us."

On the fourth play of the second, junior running back Michael Warren II bussed his way into the end zone for an 8-yard score.

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Once again, the RedHawks drove deep into Cincinnati territory on their next drive. They couldn't capitalize though, as Gabbert fumbled while being sacked, and the Bearcats recovered it.

"We've got to get at least three points there, if not seven to go up 17-7," Miami head coach Chuck Martin said.

Neither team's offense had anything to brag about for the next 10 minutes.

With two minutes remaining in the half, Cincinnati took over at the Miami 44. Sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder completed five passes in nine plays, moving his team to the 2-yard line.

Two 1-yard rushes by Warren II put the Bearcats in the end zone and in the lead, as the 14-10 halftime score favored Cincinnati.

"We played well in the first half on both sides of the ball and special teams," Martin said. "We were very solid, very physical. We were running the ball very effectively on first and second down. Defensively, we definitely held up well against the run, not getting dented at all."

After deferring on the pregame coin toss, Cincinnati received the second-half kickoff and carried over its momentum from the first half.

Ridder threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to graduate tight end Josiah Deguara, upping their team's lead to 21-10.

It wouldn't get better for the RedHawks. UC's big plays wouldn't stop coming.

Midway through the third quarter, Ridder struck again. He found senior wide receiver Thomas Geddis for a 51-yard score.

The RedHawks found their way back onto the scoreboard on their next drive, when Sloman banged a 36-yard field goal through the uprights.

Cincinnati responded quickly. The Bearcats led 28-13, when Michael Warren II wiggled free for a 73-yard touchdown run for the game's final score.

After grabbing the handoff, Warren II softly bumped into his own offensive lineman but recovered. After one cutback, he saw nothing but green grass in front of him.

"There was a 10-minute span in the third quarter, where we played lousy football," Martin said. "We got what we deserved."

Neither team added to their scores in the fourth quarter.

Warren II finished with 113 rushing yards and three touchdowns - both game highs. Overall, Cincinnati rumbled for 234 yards.

Ridder completed 14 of his 31 passes for two touchdowns and one interception.

Miami's defense recorded four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. The Bearcats were even better, tallying five sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Gabbert, even with a 6-of-6 first half, connected on only 10 of his 18 passing attempts for 143 and no touchdowns. He didn't receive much help from his running game, which averaged 1.6 yards per carry.

Next week doesn't provide any reprieve for the RedHawks, as they play at Ohio State. The game will kick off at 3:30 and air on the Big Ten Network.