In sixth defeat in a row, Mids get shut out for first time since 2012
CINCINNATI 42, NAVY 0
cincinnati — After Navy trampled the Bearcats with its option offense last season, Cincinnati was determined it wouldn’t happen again.
The Bearcats changed their defense for the rematch, adding a linebacker to put eight players up front, and they overpowered Navy’s running game while pulling away to a 42-0 victory Saturday.
A 42-32 loss at Annapolis last year stuck with them all offseason. Coach Luke Fickell started preparing Cincinnati (8-1, 4-1 American Athletic) to face the option during spring and fall practice.
“Last year’s game against them was an eye-opener,” Fickell said.
Fickell ran the scout team in fast, physical practices during the week.
“You had four linebackers just giving everything they’ve got,” said tackle Cortez Broughton, who had a career-high 10 tackles. “The drills we did in practice — I thought somebody was going to get hurt. We needed that to take it to the next level.”
The Bearcats limited Navy to 57 first-half yards despite a quarterback change. The Midshipmen (2-7, 1-4) dropped their sixth straight and were blanked for the first time since 2012.
“Getting shut out was embarrassing,” said quarterback Zach Abey, who made his first start of the season.
Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder ran for a touchdown and handed off to Michael Warren II for two more before twisting his right leg while getting tackled late in the first half. He limped off, and Hayden Moore took over and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Ridder returned for the start of the second half and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass on Cincinnati’s opening drive, then was on the sideline the rest of the way.
Navy switched quarterbacks after its 44-22 loss to No. 3 Notre Dame the previous week. It didn’t make a difference as Navy’s blockers got pushed around by a defense that ranks 11th nationally against the run. Abey was sacked all three times he tried to throw in the first half.
“I started Zach just trying to get a spark,” Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We needed to get something going.”
The Midshipmen will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2011, when they went 5-7.