McClelland, No. 24 Cincinnati hold off South Florida 28-24

Oct 8, 2022, 3:22 AM | Updated: 4:01 pm
Cincinnati wide receiver Nick Mardner, left, catches a touchdown pass against South Florida cornerb...

Cincinnati wide receiver Nick Mardner, left, catches a touchdown pass against South Florida cornerback T-Mac Simpson during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

(AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

              South Florida wide receiver Xavier Weaver, right, catches a touchdown pass against Cincinnati safety Ja'von Hicks during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              South Florida running back Brian Battie, left, carries the ball for a touchdown as he is tackled by Cincinnati linebacker Deshawn Pace during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon, left, is tackled by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cincinnati wide receiver Tre Tucker carries the ball as he is tackled by South Florida cornerback T-Mac Simpson (33) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              South Florida running back Brian Battie, right, carries the ball as he stiff-arms Cincinnati linebacker Deshawn Pace during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
            
              Cincinnati wide receiver Nick Mardner, left, catches a touchdown pass against South Florida cornerback T-Mac Simpson during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Charles McClelland rushed for a career-high 179 yards and two touchdowns including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter as No. 24 Cincinnati held off South Florida 28-24 on Saturday.

McClelland’s 35-yard touchdown run with 9:24 remaining put the Bearcats ahead to stay, helping them extend the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to 30 games. Only Clemson’s 37-game streak is longer.

Cincinnati has won 18 consecutive games against American Athletic Conference opponents.

“I felt like I was seeing everything perfect,” said McClelland, who had a career-high 21 carries. “I was staying on my end points and seeing my reads. The offensive line blocked their butts off. It was easy running for me.”

South Florida (1-5, 0-2) made things difficult for the Bearcats (5-1, 2-0), taking three leads, the last at 24-21 early in the fourth quarter on Gerry Bohannon’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Weaver. The two had earlier combined on a 9-yard TD pass.

“They came in here with a really good game plan,” said Bearcats coach Luke Fickell. “We didn’t play with the passion and the energy we should. I don’t want to take anything away from South Florida. I worry when we look and see a 1-4 team. That’s what I worry about. But we found a way.”

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant threw first-half touchdown passes of 28-yard to Jadon Thompson and 14 to Nick Mardner to help the Bearcats overcome an early 10-0 deficit.

The Bulls rushed for 51 yards on their opening drive including a 22-yard touchdown run by Brian Battie to put them ahead 7-0. Bryant was intercepted by Aamaris Brown on the Bearcats’ first offensive play, and the Bulls converted the turnover into a 21-yard field goal to go ahead 10-0.

“We got an interception on the first play on defense. We got the start we wanted,” Bulls head coach Jeff Scott said. “We knew it would be a ball control game.”

Bohanon’s 9-yard TD pass to Weaver gave South Florida a 17-14 halftime lead. It was Cincinnati’s first halftime deficit since Oct. 4, 2019 when they rallied to beat Central Florida 27-24.

It appeared the Bearcats had regained control when McClelland’s 1-yard plunge capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive to put them ahead 21-17.

“With Chuck feeling the way he is, we just needed to keep riding him,” Fickell said.

Bohanon, who ran for 117 yards and passed for 121 yards, gave South Florida its final lead after the Bulls stopped the Bearcats on fourth-and-one at the 12.

The Bearcats rallied one more time.

Cincinnati has won five straight against the Bulls, who dropped to 0-9 versus Top-25 opponents under Scott.

“We came up a little bit short,” Scott said. “They haven’t lost a conference game in three years. To get the chance you have to play well all game and deliver the knock out blow. We had an opportunity to do that and weren’t able to finish it off.”

HOME COOKIN’

The Bearcats, who will move to the Big 12 Conference next season, haven’t lost at home since Temple beat them 35-24 on Nov. 10, 2017. “We haven’t lost at home since I’ve been here,” said senior offensive lineman Dylan O’Quinn. “It’s just an expectation by all of us that we don’t lose at home. I don’t plan on it.”

MILESTONE

Fickell tied Rick Minter for first on the program’s all-time wins list with 53. It took Minter 10 seasons to reach that total. Fickell is in his sixth season.

THE TAKEAWAY

South Florida: Due to Hurricane Ian, the Bulls played four straight road games for the first time in program history. The last time they played three straight road games was 2006. The seven games played outside Tampa is a program high. South Florida has lost its last 15 road games. “It has been a difficult four weeks,” Scott said. “I can’t remember a time we played four straight games on the road (and) we played three top-20 teams without 14 scholarship players.”

Cincinnati: The Bearcats had a slew of injuries Saturday. They lost leading receiver Tyler Scott to an ankle injury late in the first half. Bryant left in the fourth quarter and did not return. Cincinnati already was without running back Corey Kiner who did not dress due to a hand injury. Kiner, an LSU transfer, had scored a TD in each of the first five games. “The bye week comes at a good time,” Fickell said. “This will be a good week to figure out who we have (available) and continue to grow.”

UP NEXT

South Florida: Hosts Tulane next Saturday.

Cincinnati: Plays at SMU on Oct. 22.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Players fight for a header during the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United St...
Associated Press

In protest-riven Iran, some celebrate U.S. World Cup victory

BAGHDAD (AP) — Soccer fans in Iran’s Kurdish region set off fireworks and honked car horns early Wednesday to celebrate the U.S. win over the Iranian national team in a politically charged World Cup match that divided the protest-riven country. Cheering fans hit the streets in Iran’s Kurdish-majority province of Kurdistan and fireworks lit the […]
1 day ago
Spain's Ansu Fati works out during a training session at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday,...
Associated Press

Spain faces Japan looking to seal last-16 spot at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After conceding late to miss out on a victory against Germany, Spain finds itself with some work left to do against Japan to guarantee its spot in the round of 16 at the World Cup. It doesn’t need much, though, as a draw on Thursday will be enough, and even a […]
1 day ago
Morocco's Abdelhamid Sabiri celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a World Cup group F so...
Associated Press

Morocco looks to advance in World Cup, Canada hopes for win

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Morocco is seeking to reach the World Cup’s knockout stage for the first time since 1986. Canada, already eliminated, is hoping to leave Qatar with its first win. Morocco would advance with a victory or a draw on Thursday night, and also could reach the round of 16 with a defeat […]
1 day ago
Christian Pulisic of the United States is helped by team doctors after he scoring his side's openin...
Associated Press

Pulisic listed as day-to-day with pelvic injury at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — U.S. forward Christian Pulisic is listed as day to day after sustaining a pelvic injury during his team’s 1-0 World Cup win against Iran that sent the Americans to the round of 16 of the tournament on Tuesday. Pulisic scored the 38th-minute winning goal against Iran, but crashed into Iranian goalkeeper […]
1 day ago
A woman holds up a sign reading Mahsa Amini, a woman who died while in police custody in Iran at th...
Associated Press

FIFA says rainbow items are allowed at World Cup stadiums

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — One day after Iran and Wales were eliminated at the World Cup, FIFA finally gave a public assurance Wednesday that rainbow items and banners supporting protests in Iran will be allowed into stadiums. Stadium security staff organized by Qatari authorities had seized items with rainbow colors and slogans such as “Women. […]
1 day ago
Men connect a homemade light with a battery to illuminate the pitch ahead of a soccer game during a...
Associated Press

In Ukraine, seeing World Cup, playing soccer pose challenges

IRPIN, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian video-game vendor Roman Kryvyi, fresh from a soccer game on a snow-blanketed field in suburban Kyiv, sat up close to a TV in a kebab shop as intermittent city power returned just in time for Tuesday’s World Cup game between Wales and England. For the 22-year-old soccer buff, there was […]
1 day ago
McClelland, No. 24 Cincinnati hold off South Florida 28-24