Sunday, September 29, 2002

UC 35, Temple 22

Guidugli leads another fourth-quarter comeback

By Kevin Cooney
Special to the Enquirer

Gino Guidugli rushes for a first down as Temple's Mike Mendenhall lunges at him from behind.
(AP photo)
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        PHILADELPHIA - Maybe it was the silent alarm clock that rings in their heads every so often. Maybe it was the embarrassing prospect of losing to a team likely to leave the Big East after the 2004 season due to poor performance and attendance. But somehing clicked for Cincinnati Saturday when the fourth quarter started, and it made all of the troubles that haunted the Bearcats all afternoon disappear in a hurry.

        Gino Guidugli's two touchdown passes rallied the Bearcats past Temple 35-22 before 18,336 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

        For the Bearcats (2-2), the win was a good tonic for the blues caused by last weekend's heartbreaking loss to sixth-ranked Ohio State.

        “It was a game we knew we were going to have to really fight for,” said Guidugli, who was 24-for-39 for 312 yards and three touchdowns on the day.

        “We were lucky to get out of here with what we got,” coach Rick Minter said. “Our kids played hard and made plays when we had to. (But) we had a lot of errors today, and we can't make those when we get back home and in league play.”

        UC hosts archrival Miami (3-2) next Saturday at 1 p.m at Nippert Stadium.

Blue Adams breaks up a pass for Temple's Terrence Stubbs.
(AP photo)
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        Guidugli tied the school record for 300-yard career games with six in just his 15th varsity contest. The previous record holder, Greg Cook, started for the Bearcats from 1966-68.

        More impressive was the way Guidugli held up under pressure.

        “He did a great job of escaping the blitz,” Owls coach Bobby Wallace said. “We blitzed on a touchdown pass (in the fourth quarter). If he can step up and there's no pressure there, then you are really vulnerable. And that's what he did.”

        Said Minter: “Everybody back home talks about 300-yard quarterbacks, but we do whatever it takes to win. If we can throw for 300 and win, that's great. But if we could become a little bit more balanced, we might not have to do that all the time.”

        This time, they had to. After surging to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Bearcats began to make huge mistakes. Blown coverages, dropped passes and special teams miscues allowed Temple to claw back into the contest. The Owls took a 22-21 lead with just more than a minute left in the third quarter on quarterback Mike McGann's 2-yard touchdown dive.

        “We can't afford to do that,” said senior defensive end Antwan Peek, who forced two fumbles, recovered one, and had nine tackles on the day. “We have to come out and be aggressive every play. We can't let teams back in the game.”

        Guidugli bailed them out. On the Bearcats' first possession after relinquishing the lead, he found Jon Olinger down the sidelines for a 32-yard touchdown pass.

        Then, after a Temple three-and-out, Guidugli did it again, finding LaDaris Vann wide open for a 27-yard score with 6:11 to play, putting the game out of reach.

        Vann, who had nine catches for 141 yards, had a little piece of history on Saturday, too. He became the fourth Cincinnati receiver to surpass the 2,000-yard club. He now has 2,124 for his career.

        DeMarco McCleskey had 57 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving early in the fourth quarter because of a cut on his left ring finger.

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vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


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