12/07 19:52 CST Gibson, No. 16 Memphis top No. 21 Cincinnati for AAC title
Gibson, No. 16 Memphis top No. 21 Cincinnati for AAC title
By CLAY BAILEY
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) --- Antonio Gibson caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from
Brady White with 1:14 left and No. 16 Memphis defeated No. 21 Cincinnati 29-24
in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday.
The victory marked the first time Memphis (12-1, No. 17, CFP) has won the AAC
title in its third straight conference championship game. The Tigers now wait
for an invitation to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five team.
Eight days after beating the Bearcats 34-24 at home in the regular-season
finale, Memphis rallied for another win.
"We knew this was going to be a game that was going to come down to responses,"
Memphis coach Mike Norvell said. "How we responded to adversity. How we
responded to success at times. But that's the character and the heart of these
Along with scoring the go-ahead touchdown, Gibson ran for 130 yards, including
a 65-yard TD dash.
"Give them a lot of credit. They made the plays down the stretch that needed to
be made, and we didn't," Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who did not play last week against
Memphis, passed for 233 yards and ran for 113 more. He also had a 15-yard
touchdown in the first half.
The game became a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter. Sam Crosa's
33-yard field goal with 4:23 left gave the Bearcats (10-3, No. 20 CFP) a 24-23
On the Tigers' next drive, Gibson caught two passes and ran five times, setting
Memphis up at the Cincinnati 6. On the scoring play, Gibson was split right and
caught White's pass.
Cincinnati drove to the Memphis 26 on its final possession, but stalled.
"We didn't find a way," Fickell said. "We didn't have the answers there at the
end. But it wasn't for lack of preparation. It wasn't from a lack of fight and
it certainly wasn't from a lack of care and love for every one of those guys in
that locker room."
Cincinnati: Ridder was key in giving the Bearcats a chance in the championship
game. He was able to scramble more than backup Ben Bryant, who played in the
first game between the two teams.
Memphis: White, a second-team all-conference selection, completed just 18 of 40
passes for 253 yards. Memphis was able to remain close with a pair of
second-half field goals by Riley Patterson of 50 and 52 yards.
Cincinnati: Awaits bowl invitation
Memphis: Awaits bowl invitation