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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Football

State of AAC: Cincinnati survives UCF, Tulsa avoids upset


Houston safety Deontay Anderson focuses on UCF running back Greg McCrae in a regular season game during the 2020 season at TDECU Stadium. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Houston safety Deontay Anderson focuses on UCF running back Greg McCrae in a regular-season AAC battle during the 2020 season at TDECU Stadium. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The American Athletic Conference had only four games this past weekend, but there were two crucial games in the race for the AAC winner.

In a week of postponements and schedule movements, the main event in the conference’s slate of games was Cincinnati and UCF, but Tulsa, who entered undefeated in the conference, also competed.

Here is a look at this week’s contests:

Tulsa 30, Tulane 24

In what appeared to be the upset of the week in the AAC, AP-ranked Tulsa (5-1, 5-0 AAC) managed to rally from a 14-point deficit to defeat Tulane (5-5, 2-5 AAC), scoring all 30 of its points after the fourth quarter on Thursday night.

The Golden Hurricane forced overtime on an absurd 37-yard prayer of a touchdown on the final play of regulation, as third-string redshirt sophomore quarterback Davis Brin hit redshirt junior receiver JuanCarlos Santana in the back of the end zone that tied the contest at 21.

Brin was forced to enter the game in the second half after redshirt junior Seth Boomer left with a leg injury.

Both teams exchanged field goals in overtime, and the Green Wave was inside of the Golden Hurricane’s 5-yard line when redshirt junior linebacker Zaven Collins intercepted a pass on a slant and returned for the game-winning score.

With the win, Tulsa moved up to No. 24 in the AP Poll and will travel to Houston next Saturday to play against the Cougars.

Next for Tulane is a game on Dec. 5 against Memphis.

Cincinnati 36, UCF 33

The Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 AAC) managed to pass another test when it encountered another one of the conference’s top teams in the Knights (5-3, 4-3 AAC).

UCF jumped out to an early 14-3 advantage against Cincinnati, but the Bearcats were able to keep their poise and crawl back into the contest.

Holding a 25-22 lead in the third quarter, UCF sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw an interception that was returned inside of the Knights’ 16-yard line, and the Bearcats were able to turn this into a touchdown on a one-yard sneak by junior quarterback Desmond Ridder.

The Bearcats took momentum on that play to stop the Knights’ high-powered offense, and Cincinnati’s offense was able to go down the field and score another touchdown on a seven-yard catch by junior tight end Leonard Taylor.

While UCF was able to cut the lead down to three on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to redshirt sophomore receiver Jaylon Robinson and a 2-point conversion pass to redshirt senior wideout Jacob Harris, Cincinnati was able to run out most of the clock to seal the win.

Despite the win, Cincinnati remained No. 7 in the AP Poll. It will travel to Philadelphia to play against Temple. UCF travels to Tampa Bay, Florida, to play against USF.

Memphis 56, Stephen F. Austin 14

Despite the lopsided score, the Lumberjacks trailed only 20-14 at halftime against the Tigers (5-2, 3-2 AAC) until the second half, when senior quarterback Brady White was able to score a one-yard touchdown run and continued to pour it one from there.

Redshirt junior wideout Calvin Austin III scored a 64-yard punt return touchdown that put the Tigers up 35-14, and Stephen F. Austin did not score a single point for the rest of the contest.

White finished with 269 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception in the win.

Memphis is scheduled to travel to Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday to play Navy.

East Carolina 28, Temple 3

In a battle of two struggling teams in the American, the Pirates (2-6, 2-5 AAC) managed to throttle the Owls (1-6, 1-6 AAC) on Saturday afternoon.

The game, however, was delayed by 50 minutes and almost did not kick-off due to COVID-19 concerns.

Sophomore receiver Tyler Snead had a strong game for ECU as he scored two touchdowns, which included a 95-yard kickoff return.

Junior quarterback Holton Ahlers for the Pirates finished with 182 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win.

ECU is set to host SMU on Saturday.

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