CINCINNATI (WNCT) — Cincinnati’s fourth-quarter field goal was what put the nail in the coffin in their 27-25 win over East Carolina Friday night.

ECU came back from a 21-5 deficit, but ultimately, the Bearcats would walk away with the win to keep their home win streak alive, now at 32 straight. Cincinnati has also won the last four meetings with ECU.

The Pirates started strong, getting on the board first with a safety and then a career-long 47-yard field goal by Andrew Conrad to stretch the lead to 5-0. This didn’t last long as Cincinnati’s Jadon Thompson took a kickoff all the way to the house to give the Bearcats a 7-5 lead.

ECU had a 25-24 lead toward the end of the game, but they just weren’t able to close it out. An exciting game, nonetheless. There were some key moments in the close game, so let’s take a look:

Keaton Mitchell loss

It was one of the most crucial moments in the game.

During a play in the third quarter, Mitchell was injured from a hit by Cincinnati’s Byron Threats, which was called for targeting. Threats was ejected, and Mitchell was down for quite some time before leaving the field. He did not return.

(Brian Bailey, WNCT video)

This was a huge loss for the Pirates as Mitchell has consistently been their top running back. Prior to the injury, Keaton had 16 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown.

C.J. Johnson

After Cincinnati had a 16-point lead, the Pirates fought back as Ahlers threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to Johnson to cut the deficit to 21-14. After the targeting call on Mitchell, Ahlers and Johnson connected again to give ECU a 25-24 lead with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

(Brian Bailey, WNCT video)

On what proved to be the final offensive drive for ECU, after converting on a 4th-and-12, the Pirates went for it on a crucial 4th-and-8 and as Ahlers looked for Johnson, the pass was thrown just a little high. Johnson believed there was pass interference, but no flag was thrown.

On the last play of the game, Johnson landed hard on his head and neck area and was carried off the field on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

Johnson had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Special teams bad luck continues

Even though ECU kicker Andrew Conrad was able to put the Pirates on the board first, after that, there wasn’t much else.

Cincinnati had a 7-5 lead and Ahlers lined his team up to get in field goal position before a penalty pushed the range back further, giving Conrad a 45-yard attempt. Conrad was not able to get it through.

It wasn’t all his fault, though. A continuous problem for the Pirates has been trying to kick field goals and extra points with the laces in, rather than out.

Offense leading categories

The Pirate’s offense led the Bearcats in every category including:

  • First downs
  • Total yards
  • Passing
  • Rushing
  • Time of Possession
(Brian Bailey, WNCT video)

The Pirates will welcome the Houston Cougars into Dowdy-Ficklen on Saturday for their last home game of the season.