In the last road game of the 2016 season, BYU outlasted an impotent Cincinnati Bearcats team, grinding out a 20-3 win Saturday at Nippert Stadium.
Cincinnati booted a 23-yard field goal on its opening drive and didn’t score again, as BYU held the Bearcats under 300 yards of offense.
Jamaal Williams rushed for 92 yards on 25 carries to lead the Cougars, surpassing 1,000 yards on the season.
After a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first half of football for both teams, BYU caught a break late in the second quarter with the game tied 3-3.
A flea-flicker resulted in a wide-open Jonah Trinnaman, at least 10 yards behind the defense. Taysom Hill, who finished the game 15 of 25 for 130 yards, greatly underthrew Trinnaman, who made a diving catch coming back to the ball to set BYU up at the Cincinnati 11.
With 48 seconds left in the half, Taysom Hill scrambled on a 3rd & 7 from the UC 8 after another pass play was unfruitful, finding the endzone to cap a 92-yard drive and give BYU a 10-3 halftime lead.
The Cougars took advantage of getting the second half kickoff and effectively put the game away out of the locker room. Hill, Williams, and Squally Canada combined for 51 rushing yards on 12-play, 70-yard drive.
BYU fans got a scare when Williams appeared to hurt his knee in the redzone. He left the game but later returned. Canada capped the drive with a 1-yard score and BYU had a 17-3 lead early in the third.
Cincinnati missed a field goal and then failed to convert a 4th & 2 at the BYU 40 with just more than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Cougars stopped runs on both 3rd and 4th downs with 2 yards to go on the series.
Their will broken, the Bearcats couldn’t get a stop and didn’t use any of their three timeouts as BYU salted the game away on a 16-play, 60-yard drive that ate up 9:41 on the clock.
That drive ended when BYU couldn’t convert three plays from inside the 5 with goal to go. Rhett Almond booted a 19-yard field goal to put the game away and make the final 20-3 tally.
Hill added 75 rushing yards to Williams’ 92, with Canada tacking on another 41 for a rushing attack that totaled 207 yards.
Trinnaman led an otherwise lackluster passing offense for BYU. His 43-yard flea-flicker catch gave him the team lead with a total of 47 yards. Aside from that one big play, Hill passed for 87 yards on 14 completions.
We learned the Cougar defense will usually come to play, regardless of whether or not it gets help from the offense. BYU stifled several UC drives that began near the 40 or better.
Cincinnati rushed for only 96 yards on the day. Gunner Kiel was accurate but nearly as inefficient as Hill, finishing 19 of 32 for 199 yards. Each quarterback threw an interception in the first half.
BYU improved to 5-4 with the win and finishes the season 2-2 in true road games.
The Cougars now face a two-week stretch of games hosting Southern Utah (Nov. 12) and UMass (Nov. 19) — games that should set BYU up for the final-week, in-state matchup with Utah State for a chance to extend its record to 8-4 before entering the Poinsettia Bowl.