Cincinnati – While the Akron Zips are not the caliber of team as the Bearcats faced last week in Tennessee or next week with North Carolina State, a lot can be said about making the plays when the opportunity presents itself.
A week after struggling mightily against the Volunteers, the Bearcats’ defense responded in a big way. They forced five turnovers, scoring three times as Cincinnati routed the Zips, 59-14, Saturday at Nippert Stadium in front of 24,991.
“All week we talked about snap and clear,” said defensive back Camerron Cheatham. “We had to put Tennessee behind us.”
It was the first time since Miami (FL) in 2000 that a Big East team scored three defensive touchdowns. The Hurricanes also had two interceptions and a fumble for scores.
Senior linebacker Maalik Bomar kicked off the defensive scoring with a 54-yard fumble return, which was followed by a 36-yard interception return by Dominique Battle and a 53-yard interception return by Cheatham.
“We were very opportunistic on defense,” said head coach Butch Jones. “I liked the confidence our back end played with. We were able to generate a pass run from our defensive line. We still have some things we need to clean up. Winning hides a lot of things.”
Akron was limited to 166 yards in the first half on 40 plays, while extending their streak to 10 quarters without a touchdown. The Zips would find pay dirt twice in the fourth quarter to stop the skid at 11.
“We were more aggressive when the ball was snapped,” said Bomar. “We played for ourselves. Everybody had to be all in.”