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September 17, 2011
Frenzied defense sought redemption
An indecisive football bounded all over the Nippert turf Saturday afternoon as UC lambasted Akron 59-14.
UC zipped their way down field to open the game. Field position was helped out by an OB kick. Credit must go to Ralph David Abernathy, as the opposing kicker once again angled his kick fiercely away from the freshman return artist.
Two Kenbrell Thompkins receptions and one Jordan Luallen sneak attack scramble later and UC notched a touchdown. 7-0 UC.
Minutes later an inspired, hard-working Derek Wolfe burst into the backfield. Wolfe's outstretched arm forced Akron QB Clayton Moore to fumble. Junior linebacker Maalik Bomar scooped up the loose ball.
"The ball came right at me," said Bomar. "It was an effort play. When it came right at me it was kind of shocking. I didn't expect it to fall right in my lap. I looked up and didn't see anyone in the boundary up the sideline so I just picked it up and ran up."
One turnover caused. One turnover capitalized upon. Second year starter Bomar didn't even believe he could be caught from behind.
"Head forward," said Bomar. "The goal line was my goal and I wanted to get there. And nobody was going to catch me at that point. I feel like I was more focused on getting to that endzone. More like tunnel vision."
Bomar's first college touchdown was not a unique moment. Freshman running back Jameel Poteat and junior George Winn rumbled into the happy zone. They each tabulated their first career score like Bomar.
Minutes after he returned to his residence Poteat pridefully beamed to his friends online.
"FIRST COLLEGE TD TODAY," Poteat electronically shouted.
It should be the first of many in Poteat's young career.
He needs 21 more to equal the ongoing and illustrious career of Isaiah Pead. Pead continues to lead the BIG EAST in touchdowns by an active player (22).
Akron's second fumble of the first quarter
drew severe attention to the talent disparity on the field. An interception claimed by senior starter Dominique Battle opened up the flood gates.
Cincinnati scored five second quarter touchdowns suggesting a uncomfortably large blowout.
Cincinnati's four interceptions were the most since snagging six against Oregon State on September 6th, 2007. In that game UC returned the quartet for 110 yards. Saturday the Bearcats accumulated 103 return yards.
Cincinnati inserted seven running backs. Seven. See also "all".
Pead started and ran just six times for fifteen yards. Poteat played early, collecting 55 yards on 10 carries. Other freshmen Akise Teague and Ralph David Abernathy took some snaps behind QB.
Akise saw six handoffs while Abernathy received four.
Then Dayton-native Adam Fearing and Anthony King entered the contest. King had the poorest game by fumbling.
"We always talk to our players about group reputation," said Coach Jones. "And group reputation as a football team. And a group reputation by position. And that is what we are working towards."
Saturday's decisive win certainly helped restore some external respect for the defense. North Carolina State will be a more significant test as the Cats look to capture their third win of the campaign.
North Carolina State defeated Cincinnati last year 30-19.
"They were a good football team and they were a better football team that night," said Coach Jones. "I thought they were physical, they ran the football, they stopped the run and I think that we have great challenge this year."
The non-conference schedule means a lot as UC hits the road four times in BIG EAST play. North Carolina State could be the only non-conference win of merit.
"I feel like we owe these guys one," said Maalik Bomar. "We let that one slip away from us last year."