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Cincinnati beats Rutgers, remains undefeated

Oct 7, 2007 - 5:54 AM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Cincinnati proved that beating Rutgers last year was no fluke. The Bearcats also may have put the rest of the Big East Conference on notice for the remainder of the season.

Ben Mauk threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns and the Cincinnati defense forced four turnovers as the 20th-ranked Bearcats defeated No. 21 Rutgers, 28-23, in the Big East opener for both teams on Saturday.

It was the first win at Rutgers Stadium for Cincinnati, which defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-11, last season when Rutgers was the seventh-ranked team in the country.

"When we needed a big one and we got it," Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said.

Quarterback Mike Teel led Rutgers down the field in the final minutes but was intercepted by linebacker Ryan Manalac on the Cincinnati 19-yard line with 1:19 left in the game.

Rutgers (3-2, 0-1 Big East), which averages 191.8 rushing yards per game, was held to just 77 yards on the ground. The Bearcats limited preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice to 94 yards on 34 carries.

"It was a tough game," Rice said. "We played a great opponent and we lost. Now we just have to face the adversity and come out next week and be prepared for Syracuse. This is something we will overcome. We'll come out and practice and make the corrections we need to. We'll get healthy and come back."

Cincinnati (6-0, 1-0) is off to their best start since 1954, when it started the season 8-0.

Trailing, 20-14, late in the third quarter, the Bearcats scored 14 points just 19 seconds apart to take an eight-point lead.

Mauk hit Marcus Bennett for a two-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left in the third and after an interception, Mauk threw a 27-yard TD to Marshawn Gilyard on the next play to give Cincinnati a 28-20 advantage.

Teel threw for 334 yards but tossed three interceptions for Rutgers, which had won its last three games following a loss. In last season's loss to Cincinnati, Teel was intercepted four times.

"Cincinnati made more plays than us and took better care of the football," Teel said. "We need to make smart decisions and give our team a chance in our future games. We'll be ready for our first road game next week."

Rutgers jumped on top first when corner back Devin McCourty intercepted Mauk and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with 5:04 left in the first quarter.

Cincinnati answered to tie the game at 7-7 when Mauk hit Dominick Goodman down the right sideline for a 15-yard score with 3:08 remaining in the first.

After Jeremy Ito's field goal, Rice put the Scarlet Knights up, 17-7, on a one-yard run with 3:28 left in the first half.