Around the American: Close games and comebacks highlight busy week in football

Houston linebacker Steven Taylor, left, sacks Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, in Cincinnati. Houston won 40-16. (AP/John Minchillo)

Just as the UConn football team won in nail biter-fashion on Saturday, it was a busy day of close games and come-from-behind wins for the rest of the American Athletic Conference.

No. 6 Houston played their first conference opponent of the season, the Cincinnati Bearcats. In what many believe could have been a preview of the American championship, Houston (3-0, 1-0 American) struggled to move the ball for most of the contest, but was victorious in the end by a score of 40-16. While the final score suggests a blowout, the game was far from a rout.

For the first time this season, Houston found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter, after a 4-yard touchdown pass from elusive Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore gave the Bearcats a 16-12 lead. This seemed to be the wakeup call that Houston needed, as they went on to score 28 unanswered points, including back-to-back pick-sixes to defeat Cincinnati (2-1, 0-1), and hold onto their No. 6 position in this week’s AP poll. Cougars dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward Jr. returned in stellar fashion after missing Houston’s last game due to a shoulder injury, returned in stellar fashion, throwing for 326 yards and a touchdown on 24-36 passing and adding 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

In the only other conference matchup of the week, Navy (3-0, 2-0 American) defeated Tulane (1-2, 0-1) in a defensive battle, 21-14. For the second week in a row, Navy quarterback Will Worth scored a game-winning touchdown in the game’s final minutes. It was an ugly, physical affair, with the teams combining for only 80 total passing yards, but it was enough for Navy’s second straight win against a conference opponent.

Elsewhere, Temple’s (1-2) late comeback effort fell short against Penn State, falling 27-34 behind PSU quarterback Trace McSorley’s 287-yard, one touchdown performance. East Carolina  (2-1) could not overcome a 17 point deficit and four turnovers, as South Carolina handed the Pirates their first loss of the season, 20-15.

Unlike Temple and East Carolina, USF completed their comeback and found the win column once again on Saturday. After falling behind 17 points in the first quarter, USF (3-0) outscored Syracuse 45-3 the rest of the way en route to a 45-20 victory, remaining undefeated on the season.

Next week, 11 American teams will all be in play against non-conference opponents, highlighted by UConn hosting Syracuse and USF taking on Florida State.


Andrew Morrison is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.morrison@uconn.edu.