Cincinnati Football: Bearcats holding onto narrow lead over SMU at halftime

Ryan Montgomery of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs against the SMU Mustangs. Getty Images.
Ryan Montgomery of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs against the SMU Mustangs. Getty Images. /
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After a relatively slow start, the Bearcats scored on back to back drives to take a 20-14 lead over SMU at halftime on Saturday afternoon. Cincinnati is set to receive the kick off to start the second half with a chance to stay undefeated in conference play.

On the opening drive, SMU picked up a first down but the Bearcats were able to force a punt from midfield. Cincinnati wasn’t able to take advantage though as Ben Bryant threw three straight incompletions in his first appearance since suffering a concussion.

Just a few plays later, Arquon Bush picked off Tanner Mordecai and put the Bearcats in position to take an early lead. Even though the offense failed to score a touchdown, junior kicker Ryan Coe gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead with 10:55 remaining in the first quarter.

With less than a minute to go in the opening quarter, Ryan Montgomery punched in a touchdown to give the Bearcats a 10-0 lead. On the first snap of the next drive, Charles McClelland scored on a 76-yard sprint to the house with 13:34 left in the first half.

Cincinnati Football: Bearcats holding onto narrow lead over SMU at halftime

Despite a double digit lead, Luke Fickell decided to go for a fourth down at midfield and Corey Kiner came up short. That crucial stop gave SMU a confidence boost as Mordecai hit Jordan Kerley on a flea flicker to set up a touchdown run and cut into the deficit.

Coe added another field goal to extend the Bearcats lead to 20-7 before the Mustangs answered with another scoring drive as Mordecai connected with Kerley for a one-yard touchdown. Cincinnati took a knee and went the locker room with a 20-14 lead.

Prior to kick off, senior receiver Tre Tucker touched on the matchup at SMU via Cincinnati Athletics.

"“We know that SMU is a really good team. We played them here last year on our Senior Day and it went really well for us. I’m pretty sure they have us targeted. I know they’re going to come out firing. They just got a win last week against Navy so it will be a good game.”"

Next. Cincinnati Football: Week 8 preview, odds, predictions against SMU. dark