CINCINNATI (AP) — Desmond Ridder passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns as No. 14 Cincinnati defeated No. 22 Army 24-10 in the first matchup of ranked teams at Nippert Stadium since 2008.
Army’s vaunted triple-option offense came in averaging 389.5 rushing yards, but the Bearcats held them to 182, including 81 by junior QB Christian Anderson who also passed for 94 yards on nine completions.
Army (2-1) hasn’t defeated a ranked opponent on the road since 1958, but the Black Knights shocked the Bearcats with a defensive touchdown just 51 seconds into the game.
Ridder ran an option to the left, but his pitch to running back Charles McClelland was deflected by Army defensive back Jabari Moore, who recovered the ball and ran 42 yards for a touchdown to put the Black Knights ahead 7-0. Moore also had an interception in the first quarter.
But the Bearcats bounced back when Ridder completed a 45-yard pass to Jayshon Jackson and two plays later found Michael Young for a 12-yard TD, putting the Bearcats ahead 10-7 in the second quarter. Young had five catches for 60 yards.
The Bearcats (2-0) made a big special teams play late in the half when Ethan Tucky blocked an Army punt giving them possession at the 7-yard line. But the Black Knights held on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Black Knights defense, which ranked fifth nationally in rush defense, held the Bearcats to only six rushing yards in the first half.
But momentum swung in the Bearcats’ favor early in the third quarter when Anderson’s fumble was recovered by linebacker Joel Dublanko at the 40-yard line.
The Bearcats rushed for 42 yards during a 60-yard scoring drive, which was capped by Alabama transfer Jerome Ford’s 4-yard TD run extending their lead to 17-7.
Cincinnati sealed the victory with a 60-yard TD pass from Ridder to running back Gerrid Doaks with 6:55 left.
Army’s last win over a ranked opponent came in 1972, when they beat No. 19 Air Force.
It was the first meeting between the two schools since 2004, when Army won 48-29 to end their 19-game losing streak, which at the time was the nation’s longest.
Saturday’s game was just scheduled on Aug. 26 when Army and Cincinnati agreed to a home-and-home series. Cincinnati originally was scheduled to play Nebraska on Saturday, before the Big Ten Conference postponed the start of its season. The Bearcats will play at Army on Oct. 4, 2031. Cincinnati had non-conference games against Western Michigan and Miami of Ohio canceled due to pandemic concerns. Army’s game against BYU was canceled last week when the Cougars had players test positive for COVID-19.
Army hosts Abilene Christian on Saturday.
Cincinnati hosts South Florida on Saturday in its American Athletic Conference opener.