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Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati Offense Struggles in 24-7 Loss to Louisville

In a battle of interim coaches and offensive backups, the Bearcats didn’t have enough in Boston.

Wasabi Fenway Bowl - Louisville v Cincinnati Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

In Cincinnati’s final football game as a member of the American Athletic Conference, they didn’t have enough offense to hang with traditional rival Louisville. The Bearcats lost the latest chapter of the “Keg of Nails” rivalry by a score of 24-7 with interim head coach Kerry Coombs at the helm.

Louisville jumped out to a 21-7 lead at the half. That was fueled by two touchdowns and 99 yards on five carries by running back Jawhar Jordan. Quarterback Brock Domann, playing in place of NFL prospect Malik Cunningham, also threw a touchdown to tight end Marshon Ford in the first half.

For Cincinnati, it was tough to get the offense moving considering the amount of pressure Louisville’s defense provided. Quarterback Evan Prater was sacked five times while completing seven passes on nine attempts for 83 yards and a touchdown.

That touchdown was the offensive highlight of the game for Cincinnati as Prater found Wyatt Fischer while avoiding another sack. Fischer then weaved his way for a 20-yard touchdown.

Cincinnati started the second half with Brady Lichtenberg at quarterback, who fumbled the ball away on his first carry. Prater went back in on the subsequent drive.

Louisville kicker James Prater added a 48-yard field goal late in the third quarter to extend the lead. Cincinnati’s defense came alive in the second half with a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble that limited Louisville’s other scoring opportunities. The Cardinals turned the ball over four times on the day.

Even with the defensive effort displayed by the Bearcats, continuous offensive issues popped up. UC converted just two third downs on 12 attempts and allowed seven sacks on the afternoon. They picked up ten first downs (compared to Louisville’s 24) and entered the red zone just once.

Prater finished the game seven of 15 for 83 yards. He did not complete a pass in the second half.

Entering the game, Cincinnati had not lost a game where their leading rusher totaled over 100 yards. The team netted 44 yards on the ground on Saturday.

Coombs will now turn the reigns over to former Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, who appeared briefly on the broadcast of the game via video call from UC’s facility back in Ohio. Satterfield also confirmed that he wanted to keep Coombs on staff permanently.

“This is my first look at Cincinnati, really,” Satterfield said of his opportunity to watch Saturday’s game. “In my time being here the last couple weeks, we’re really just working on staff, working on recruiting, and that’s all we’ve been this is kid of interesting to me to watch these guys and watch them fly around and play. I know they’ve been working hard in practice, according to Coach Coombs, and excited to have Coach Coombs stay and be a part of our staff.”

Satterfield went on to say on the broadcast that he was hoping to use the day as a recruiting tool, chatting with multiple UC recruits throughout the day.

“This is a really unusual situation, but we’ve got recruits in today. I’ve already talked to two recruits this morning and I’ve got several more this afternoon here.”

Given the loss, it’s interesting to think how those conversations will go.

The Bearcats join the Big 12 Conference on July 1, 2023.