Sunday, November 25, 2001

UC 36, Memphis 34

Last-second TD pass puts Bearcats in bowl

By Phil Stukenborg
Special to the Enquirer

        MEMPHIS — Cincinnati coach Rick Minter walked off the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Field Saturday with a game ball clutched in one hand, a victory cigar in the other and a smile after the Bearcats' last-second 36-34 victory over Memphis.

Memphis QB Danny Wimprine fumbles under pressure from UC's Derrick Adams.
(AP photos)
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        The Bearcats (6-4, 5-2 in C-USA) became bowl-eligible and probably are headed for the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich., for the second straight season, this time to face Toledo. Ken Hoffman, the bowl's executive director, said it's a strong possibility UC will be C-USA's representative.

        Cincinnati won on a 13-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Gino Guidugli to Jon Olinger, a fade route to the left corner of the end zone with four seconds left.

        “It was almost storybook,” said Minter. “But we've been the cardiac kids all year long.”

        Guidugli continued his Cinderella season, one that began for him with a last-second TD pass to beat Army in September.

        “That was one of the best feelings I've had in my sports career,” Guidugli said. “And we've been in situations like that so much this year that we believe we can accomplish anything. As long as we've got one play, we feel we've got a chance.”

        Guidugli, who led the Bearcats to five scores on six second-half possessions, completed 18 of 36 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns.

Memphis receiver Darron White is taken down by Jason Hunt.
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        Cincinnati's game-winning drive, which began with a sack of Guidugli, included several key conversions.

        On third-and-16 from the Bearcats 19, Memphis defensive back Anthony Harden was called for pass interference.

        Then on fourth-and-27 from the Bearcat 27, with 25 seconds left, Guidugli found Olinger open at the Memphis 37.

        And in the closing seconds, Guidugli lofted a perfect pass to Olinger in the left corner of the end zone on a fade route, setting off a celebration on the UC sideline.

        Olinger had all his receptions in the second half.

        “It was a great day for me,” Olinger said. “It was the highlight of my career.”

        Olinger caught six passes for 144 yards and the two TDs. Running backs DeMarco McCleskey and Ray Jackson each rushed for 100 or more yards for UC, with McCleskey gaining 120 and Jackson 110.

        After the Bearcats had taken a 30-27 lead with 4:04 to go on a 26-yard field goal by Jonathan Ruffin, Memphis (5-6, 3-4 in C-USA) struck quickly.

        Taking advantage of a pass interference call that negated UC safety Doug Monaghan's interception near midfield, Danny Wimprine fired his third touchdown pass of the day, this one to Antoine Harden streaking down the left sideline.

        The TD gave Memphis a 34-30 lead, but the Tigers' defense wasn't up to the challenge.

        “It wasn't that touchdown play that beat us, it was that fourth-and-27,” said Memphis safety Glenn Sumter. "That fourth-and-27 play is what I'm going to be thinking about for the rest of my life.”

        Trailing 17-10 at the half, UC drove 91 yards to tie the game on its opening possession to begin a back-and-forth battle.

        The Bearcats converted twice on third down and once on fourth-and-3 from the Memphis 33 on the drive and McCleskey got the TD on a 2-yard run.

        Memphis answered with a Ryan White field goal of 22 yards, and Ruffin followed with a 45-yard field goal that glanced off the left upright to re-tie the game at 20. Guidugli and Olinger hooked up on a 24-yard TD pass early in the fourth and Memphis tied it at 27-all on a 45-yard run by Dante Brown, who finished with 90 yards on 15 carries.

        Then Ruffin's field goal with 4:04 to go began the frantic final four minutes.

Team   1 2 3 4     SCORE
Cincinnati   3 7 10 16     36
Memphis   3 14 3 14     34
Scoring Summary
1st QuarterMemphis Field Goal - 30-yarder by Ryan White. 11:32 remaining.
Cincinnati Field Goal - 20-yarder by Jonathon Ruffin.
8:40 remaining.
2nd QuarterMemphis Touchdown - 69-yard pass from Danny Wimprine to
Darron White. (Ryan White kick). 8:39 remaining.
Cincinnati Touchdown - 7-yard run by Nathan Wize.
(Jonathon Ruffin kick). 2:30 remaining.
Memphis Touchdown - 15-yard pass from Danny Wimprine to
Darron White. (Ryan White kick). 0:21 remaining.
3rd QuarterCincinnati Touchdown - 2-yard run by DeMarco McCleskey.
(Jonathon Ruffin kick). 8:07 remaining.
Memphis Field Goal - 22-yarder by Ryan White. 4:07 remaining.
Cincinnati Field Goal - 45-yarder by Jonathon Ruffin.
1:08 remaining.
4th QuarterCincinnati Touchdown - 24-yard pass from Gino Guidugli to
Jon Olinger. (Jonathon Ruffin kick). 13:12 remaining.
Memphis Touchdown - 45-yard run by Dante Brown.
(Ryan White kick). 12:12 remaining.
Cincinnati Field Goal - 26-yarder by Jonathon Ruffin.
4:04 remaining.
Memphis Touchdown - 38-yard pass from Danny Wimprine to
Antoine Harden. (Ryan White kick). 2:16 remaining.
Cincinnati Touchdown - 13-yard pass from Gino Guidugli to
Jon Olinger. (Two-point conversion failed). 0:04 remaining.
Attendance: 26,395
Final Team StatisticsCincinnati Memphis
First downs 3323
Rushes-yards 54-22432-145
Passing yards 348295
Return yards 1131
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 36-18-033-16-0
Punts-Average 5-41.85-48.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-01-0
Penalties-Yards 10-935-51
Time of Possession 35:0624:54
Cincinnati - McCleskey 25-120, Jackson 21-110, Wize 2-17, team 1-(-1), Guidugli 5-(-22).
Memphis - Brown 15-90, Wimprine 17-55.
Cincinnati - Guidugli 18-36-0, 348 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Memphis - Wimprine 16-33-0, 295 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Cincinnati - Olinger 6-144, Vann 4-44, Deatherage 3-33, Keith 2-63, Jackson 2-47, Wize 1-17.
Memphis - White 7-123, Harden 3-97, Perkins 3-21, Anglin 1-37, Johnson 1-16, Brown 1-1.

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