Sunday, November 07, 1999

Louisville 23, UC 13


Bearcats stop Redman, themselves

BY TOM GROESCHEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[kenner]
QB Deontey Kenner.
(Josh Biggs photo)

| ZOOM |
        It has been one of the most exciting years in University of Cincinnati football history, but it is also a losing season.

        UC's year of spectacular highs and numbing lows hit another low Saturday, in a bruising 23-13 Conference USA loss to Louisville before a Homecoming crowd of 26,399 at Nippert Stadium.

        The anticipated shootout between pass-happy quarterbacks Chris Redman of Louisville and Deontey Kenner of UC never materialized, as neither threw a touchdown pass. But U of L's attacking defense shut UC down when it mattered, and the Cardinals (7-3, 4-1 C-USA) moved closer to a bowl bid.

        UC (3-6, 0-4) clinched its second straight losing season, and was left to ponder what might have been. Since upsetting then-No. 9 ranked Wisconsin on Sept. 18, the Bearcats have gone 1-5.

        “After Wisconsin, I thought we were going to beat everyone on our schedule, because that was our hardest game,” said UC running back Robert Cooper, who ran for 101 yards Saturday. “It's frustrating.”

        UC delighted the crowd by wearing red jerseys for the first time in 17 years, with coach Rick Minter eschewing the traditional home black for a motivational spark.

        But in the end, UC's offense produced only two touchdowns and its placekicking was again an adventure, missing a 32-yard field goal and an extra point.

        Inexperience, Cooper said, has hurt. The rebuilding Bearcats have only three seniors who play much, with Cooper the only one on offense.

        “We're still young,” Cooper said. “We're still growing. That's why we've lost so many close games. I'd rather get blown out, to tell you the truth.”

        Right after beating Wisconsin, the Bearcats took a 14-point lead on Ohio State before losing 34-20. But then they lost three straight C-USA heartbreakers to Houston, UAB and Southern Miss by a total of 14 points, before rallying to beat rival Miami University in a 52-42 thriller last week.

        Saturday, the game was rated dead-even at the start. Louisville entered as the nation's No.4 scoring offense, at 40.2 points per game, but had just the 98th-ranked defense, allowing 32 points per game.

        UC, much more balanced, entered ranked No.52 in scoring (27 points per game) and No.56 in defense (24.6).

        Redman, ranked the top NFL senior quarterback prospect by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper and others, threw for 367 yards and completed his NCAA-record 1,000 career pass, but was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 14 games.

        Near the end, it was 17-13 and UC was driving at the U of L 37-yard line with under a minute to play. But Louisville sealed things when linebacker Bud Herring scored on an errant Kenner pass for a 66-yard interception return.

        “If you had told me we'd hold Louisville's vaunted 40-points-a-game offense to 17 points, which is essentially what we did, I'd have thought we'd have a pretty good chance to win,” Minter said. “I thought our defense played a heck of a football game overall. Our offense just was not in sync.”

        U of L scored on its first drive with a 29-yard field goal by Jon Hilbert, but the Bearcat defense kept them out of the end zone before halftime.

        UC could not generate anything on its first two offensive drives, then had a 15-play drive fizzle on a missed 32-yard field goal attempt by Jonathon Ruffin early in the second period.

        UC's only first-half score was set up by a 56-yard pass from Kenner to Antonio Chatman, a quick slant that Chatman carried down to U of L's 8-yard line.

        From there, UC fullback Lloyd Garden swept right for an 8-yard TD run. The extra point gave UC a 7-3 lead with 10:02 remaining until halftime.

        The Bearcat defense rose up for several fourth-down stops, holding U of L to 1-for-5 on fourth-down conversions. But too often, the offense could not respond, with misfired passes the usual culprit.

        Kenner threw for 194 yards, completed just 15 of 32 passes, and was intercepted twice.

        “Last week we finished our drives,” a glum Kenner said. “This week, we just couldn't punch it through.”

        UC had a chance when Kenner scored on a 2-yard run to make it 17-13 with 2:15 left. But the Bearcats were penalized on the point-after try, and Ruffin missed what was a 25-yard PAT try.

        UC, with no timeouts left, got the ball back for one final drive, which ended on the interception return for a TD.

        “We're tired of saying that we're getting close,” Minter said. “A losing season is nailed down now, and we don't like it.”

        Louisville ....... 3 0 7 13—23

        Cincinnati ....... 0 7 0 6—13

        First Quarter

        Lou—FG Hilbert 29, 9:19.

        Second Quarter

        Cin—Garden 8 run (Ruffin kick), 10:02.

        Third Quarter

        Lou—Moreau 9 run (Zebich kick), 6:08.

        Fourth Quarter

        Lou—Redman 1 run (Zebich kick), 14:57.

        Cin—Kenner 2 run (kick failed), 2:15.

        Lou—Herring 66 interception return (run failed), 0:58.

        A—26,399

        Lou Cin

       First downs ....... 29   17

        Rushes-yards ....... 33-108  37-181

        Passing ....... 367   194

        Comp-Att-Int ....... 32-49-1  15-32-2

        Return Yards ....... 89   75

        Punts-Avg. ....... 2-50   5-41

        Fumbles-Lost ....... 3-1   0-0

        Penalties-Yards ....... 9-106   9-76

        Time of Possession ....... 30:16   29:44

        INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

        RUSHING—Louisville, Moreau 29-112, Redman 3-11. Cincinnati, Cooper 27-96, Kenner 6-54, Garden 3-29, Mays 1-2.

        PASSING—Louisville, Redman 32-49-1-367. Cincinnati, Kenner 15-32-2-194.

        RECEIVING—Louisville, Jackson 15-174, Green 7-100, Boyd 4-47, Sheffield 4-23, Moreau 1-12, Parker 1-11. Cincinnati, Chatman 4-105, Keith 3-31, Smikle 3-24, Vann 2-9, Collins-Baker 1-12, Hunt 1-12, Cooper 1-1.

       



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