With a chance to clinch a spot in the AAC title game for a fourth consecutive season, the Bearcats came up just short in a 27-24 loss to Tulane on Friday at Nippert Stadium in front of another sellout crowd.
In addition to falling short of securing a third straight conference championship, the 32-game win streak at Nippert Stadium was snapped in a heartbreaking loss for the Bearcats, most notably the 28 seniors.
Cincinnati regained the lead late in the fourth quarter on Ryan Montgomery’s 15-yard touchdown run but the Green Wave quickly answered with a touchdown drive and eventually escaped with a narrow win.
Luke Fickell’s team was hoping for a game-winning drive in the final minutes but Evan Prater’s pass to Tyler Scott fell incomplete on fourth down with just 58 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.
Cincinnati Football: Tulane snaps the Bearcats home win streak on Senior Day
After starting quarterback Ben Bryant went down with a broken foot last weekend, Prater was thrust into his first career start and it took a while for the offense to find a rhythm with a new signal caller.
Montgomery fueled the Bearcats’ offense with a pair of critical touchdowns but it wasn’t enough as Tyjae Spears totaled a game-high 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns to lead Tulane to the win.
Cincinnati fell to 9-3 with the loss and will attempt to bounce back in a bowl game next month. During the postgame press conference, Fickell discussed the disappointing outcome via Cincinnati Athletics.
"“It wasn’t a lack of effort or preparation. We knew it was going to be a battle and come down to the fourth quarter. We fought back and forth to get ourselves in a situation to win the game in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t get it done. Everybody is hurting but nobody more than those seniors. They have meant more than anything to me and this program. With all the things that are presented to you with a championship opportunity, it just hurts that much more. This doesn’t define them but it does sting because they all care so much.”"