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No. 2 Cincinnati scores 17 unanswered second-half points to drop Tulane, remain unbeaten

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NEW ORLEANS – For the second straight week, the University of Cincinnati football team got all it could handle on the road.

After holding just a 14-12 lead at halftime against one-win Tulane, Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to secure a 31-12 win over the Green Wave on Saturday at Yulman Stadium.

Ridder completed 17 of 27 passes for 227 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Ridder completed two touchdowns to tight end Josh Whyle and another to running back Jerome Ford, who also had a rushing score.

Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) returns home Nov. 6 to host Tulsa (3-5, 2-2). The homecoming clash for the Bearcats is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

With both its first string- and second-string quarterbacks out with injuries, Tulane (1-7, 0-4) started true freshman Kai Horton, who entered the game having attempted three passes on the season. One of those three attempts ended in an interception.

Horton opened the game by taking a 16-yard sack on third down on the Green Wave's first drive. Cincinnati defensive lineman Jowon Briggs made the sack that took Tulane out of field-goal range.

But the Green Wave got a clutch 39-yard punt by Ryan Wright that pinned Ridder and the UC offense down at their own 1-yard line.

Ridder countered by leading the Bearcats on 16-play, 99-yard scoring drive that ate up 7:25 of game clock.

After scoring two touchdowns last week in UC's narrow 27-20 win at then-one-win Navy (the Midshipmen defeated Tulsa on Thursday), tight end Josh Whyle put the Bearcats on the board first with 1:14 to play in the first quarter. The 16-yard connection between quarterback Desmond Ridder and Whyle gave Cincinnati the early 7-0 lead after an extra point by freshman kicker Christian Lowery. He and Alex Bates handled the kicking duties for the second straight game, as Cole Smith continues to recover from an undisclosed injury.

Tulane cut into the Bearcats' lead after sacking Ridder in the end zone for a safety at the 10:43 mark in the second quarter. It was the Green Wave's first safety since 2018.

Tulane then took a 9-7 lead on its next drive after Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears exploded through the Cincinnati defense for a 47-yard score.

Spears ended the day with 106 yards, the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and first 100-yard rusher for Tulane this season.

Ridder, who hasn't run much this season in comparison to his first three years under center, raced for a 37-yard gain. The scamper set up a three-yard rushing touchdown by Ford that put Cincinnati ahead for good 14-9 with 6:19 to play before halftime.

The Green Wave booted a 41-yard field goal as time expired, and the Bearcats led 14-12 at the break.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: No. 2 Cincinnati beats Tulane to remain unbeaten in college football