Cincinnati falls to N. Carolina 39-17 in Belk Bowl
Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville knew it was going to be a
tough task protecting quarterback Brendon Kay with both starting
guards sitting out with injuries.
The problem was he couldn’t do much about it.
”They knew we were missing some starters on the offensive line,
and they threw the kitchen sink at us,” Tuberville said. ”They
twisted, they did all kinds of things up front, and our quarterback
could never set his feet. He didn’t have a chance.”
The Bearcats allowed five sacks, including a safety on Kay, and
lost 39-17 to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl on Saturday.
Kay, who threw for 332 yards and four TDs in last year’s Belk
Bowl win over Duke, was limited to 15-of-31 passing for 181 yards
with one interception this time around.
”The O-line played their butts off, and did everything they
could,” Kay said. ”I just needed to get rid of the ball earlier,
and make better decisions. I missed some throws I shouldn’t have
missed. There was a lot of stuff that went wrong for us.”
T.J. Logan returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan
Switzer scored on an 86-yard punt return to help North Carolina to
its first Belk Bowl victory in four attempts.
Marquise Williams threw for 171 yards and a touchdown for the
Tar Heels (7-6) in their first bowl victory since 2010.
Romar Morris scored on two short touchdown runs and Jack Tabb
caught a touchdown pass as the Tar Heels (7-6) closed the season by
winning six of their final seven games under second-year coach
The victory also capped a huge turnaround for the Tar Heels, who
started the season 1-5.
”We’re standing here today because of our coaching staff and
our senior leadership,” said Switzer, the game’s MVP. ”Those two
groups, they didn’t let us hang our heads. They didn’t let one
person walk into the building who wasn’t willing to work. We knew
we had the talent the ability to turn the season around. We had to
have the heart to do it.”
Said Fedora: ”At 1-5, nobody thought we would be sitting here
today. But these guys kept believing and got it done.”
Cincinnati (9-4) was looking to become the bowl’s first
back-to-back champion since Virginia did it 10 years ago.
North Carolina came in having lost its previous three in-state
Belk Bowl appearances, but bolted to a 23-3 halftime lead behind a
pair of long touchdown drives led by Williams and Logan’s nifty
After Morris scored on a 2-yard run to make it 7-0, Brandon
Ellerbe and Kareem Martin sacked Kay in the end zone for a safety –
the first of three sacks in the opening half. On the ensuing
kickoff, Logan put the Tar Heels in control by fielding the ball
near the left sideline and cutting back up the middle of the field
for the score.
Williams made it 23-3 in the second quarter, hitting Tabb on a
quick slant for a 3-yard touchdown strike.
”I thought our defense was just dominating in the first half,”
Unlike last year’s Belk Bowl when Cincinnati spotted Duke 17
points and stormed back to win 48-34 behind Kay’s four touchdown
passes, there would be no Bearcats comeback.
Switzer turned in another big special teams play in the third
quarter when he fielded a punt at his own 14 exploded up the field
for an 86-yard TD after several Bearcats overran the punt.
”I sold it,” Switzer said. ”When I caught it they just kind
of stood there and I was able to take it and run.”
The Bearcats reached the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown run by
Ralph David Abernathy, but the Tar Heels answered with a methodical
13-play, 65-yard drive, with Morris scoring his second touchdown on
a 1-yard plunge to make it 36-10.
Kay said it was an emotional way to end his career at
”This is not the way (the seniors) wanted to go out, by any
means,” Kay said. ”It’s tough. We’ve been through a lot this year
– coaching changes, losing a teammate (in a deadly car accident),
other ups and downs – but I wouldn’t want to go to war with anybody
else but this team, these seniors.”
NOTES: North Carolina announced that James Hurst, the team’s
first-team All-ACC senior left tackle, suffered a non-displaced
fibula fracture in his left leg. … Shaq Washington played some
quarterback for Cincinnati and scored on a 10-yard touchdown run
late in the game. … Tar Heels punter Tommy Hibbard pinned the
Bearcats inside the 20 three times.