No. 2 Cincinnati holds off Tulsa 28-20 to improve to 9-0

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CINCINNATI – Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns and No. 2 Cincinnati held off Tulsa 28-20 on Saturday.

Alec Pierce had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown to help the Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 American Athletic) extend the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to 25 games.

Shamari Brooks rushed for 132 yards for Tulsa (3-6, 2-3), and Anthony Watkins ran for 105.

When Tulsa was stopped short on fourth down at the 4, it appeared the Bearcats would just run out the clock. But Ridder fumbled on a sneak, giving the Golden Hurricane life.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Steven Anderson fumbled as he was reaching for the goal line, and Jabari Taylor made the recovery for a touchback.

The Bearcats beat Tulsa 27-24 on a last-second field goal in the AAC championship game last season.

The game Saturday didn’t feel like it would be that close when rushing TDs by Ridder and Jerome Ford put the Bearcats ahead 14-0.

The Bearcats had a rough series in the second quarter when Ridder was sacked twice and leading rusher Jerome Ford was helped off with an apparent left leg injury. He did not return.

Brooks’ 8-yard TD run capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive by Tulsa late in the first half and cut the Bearcats’ lead to 14-9, but the point-after attempt was missed.

Zack Long connected on a 50-yard field goal and Tulsa trailed 14-12 at halftime. It was the second straight week that the Bearcats led 14-12 at halftime.

Cincinnati outgained Tulsa 165-36 in the first quarter but was outgained 120-66 in the second.

Ridder and the Bearcats responded with touchdown passes to Pierce and Michael Young Jr. to go ahead 28-12.

But Tulsa wasn’t finished.

Davis Brin threw a 21-yard TD pass to JuanCarlos Santana and the 2-point conversion to bring the Golden Hurricane to 28-20 with eight minutes left.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane relied on the ground game to keep the Bearcats’ high-powered offense off the field. It was the fifth time this season that Tulsa has rushed for 200 or more yards.

Cincinnati: After relatively close wins the past two weeks against Navy and Tulane, the Bearcats needed an impressive performance to sway the playoff committee. But Saturday’s performance isn’t likely to move the needle.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 for the third consecutive week. But the Bearcats are more concerned with their No. 6 ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which they felt was disrespectful.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.