CINCINNATI — Desmond Ridder threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to help No. 7 Cincinnati rout East Carolina 55-17 on Friday night.
Cincinnati (7-0, 5-0 American Athletic) extended its school-record home winning streak to 19 games, the fourth-longest streak among FBS schools, and kept its hopes alive for a College Football Playoff berth.
Ridder has accounted for 17 touchdowns in the past four games, including nine rushing TDs.
In Cincinnati’s three-point victory over East Carolina last year, the Pirates scored 43 points and piled up 638 yards. The Bearcats were motivated to prevent a repeat.
The offense got off to a fast start with Ridder’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Michael Young to cap a 79-yard drive on their opening possession.
Cincinnati had second-and-goal at the Pirates 3, but lost a fumble at the 5. Six plays later, however, Bearcats linebacker Jarell White returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown.
After punting on three of its first four possessions, East Carolina (1-6, 1-5) drove 58 yards in three plays, pulling to 14-7 on Keaton Mitchell’s 18-yard run.
Ridder’s 16-yard scramble on third-and-12 set up Jerome Ford’s 24-yard touchdown run, and Tre Tucker’s 45-yard touchdown reception highlighted a 28-point second quarter.
After passing for 535 yards against the Bearcats last season, Holton Ahlers threw for 87 yards Friday with three interceptions. He was sacked four times.
The Bearcats, up 42-10 in the fourth quarter, ran a successful fake punt that led to Ford’s second rushing touchdown.
With the Bearcats looking to run out the clock with 17 seconds remaining, Cameron Young burst through the hole for a 75-yard run to cap the scoring.
East Carolina: Linebackers Bruce Bevins and Dre Terry were ejected for targeting within about five minutes in the second quarter. Both hits came on Cincinnati kickoff returners.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats got corners James Wiggins and Arquon Bush and receiver Alec Pierce back from injury, but lost senior defensive end Elijah Ponder to a knee injury in the second quarter. Ponder was on the sideline on crutches.
East Carolina: At Temple on Nov. 21.
Cincinnati: At Central Florida on Nov. 21.