The UH/AAC Report

Houston makes Navy retreat and has an opportunity to knock off No. 21 USF

The UH offense was able to sink Navy. Photo via Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The weekly UH/AAC report:

Houston 49, Navy 36

UH traveled to Annapolis, MD on Saturday looking for their sixth win of the season and in an attempt to halt Navy’s elusive triple option run scheme. The Midshipmen dominated on the ground the entire first half, something they have done all season, ranking them third in rushing nationally. Consequently, Navy precisely controlled the time of possession battle with 42 minutes vs Houston’s 17. But for every Midshipmen rushing attack, the Cougars had a quick answer in QB D’Eriq King, who ended the game 25 of 38, 413 yards, and three total touchdowns, earning AAC Offensive Player of the Week honorable mentions. Jim Nantz, a UH alumnus, joined the broadcast booth to watch his Cougars and even called a 17-yard King rushing touchdown. Nantz was in the area prepping to call Sunday’s Cowboys vs. Redskins game at nearby FedEx field. The first half was entertaining, both teams traded blows and lit up the score board in a staggering manner, ending with Navy leading 24-21.

Houston adjusted greatly in the second half, where they went on an onslaught of 35 unanswered points, and an equally impressive defensive showing by Ed Oliver and company.  Senior Linebacker Austin Robinson had another monster game, where he led the team with 21 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks earning him AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors. Ed Oliver had 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack, but was later sidelined as a precautionary measure due to an illegal chop block in the fourth quarter. But the most impressive thing about Houston was that they won the physicality battle against a military academy team. Not easy to do. They set the tone early in the second half, and constricted a tough Navy team that was seemingly scoring at will in the first.

Cougars’ WRs also showed up big despite having a couple of drops in the early parts of the game. Marquez Stevenson, Courtney Lark, and Keith Corbin each had 100+ receiving yards. The offensive line continues to be a fortress for King, where they have only allowed one sack in the last five games.

Houston is set to host No. 21 USF, one of five unbeaten teams in the FBS, and the Bulls possess dangerous weapons in QB Blake Barnett and RB Jordan Cronkite, who has had five straight 100+ rushing yards per game. UH improves to 6-1 in the season.

Houston is ranked third in scoring offense, and fourth in total offense nationally.

King's season stats in seven games: 141 of 222, three INTs, 63.5 completion percentage, 1,984 passing yards, 281 net rushing yards, 31 total TDs.

Houston is now bowl eligible for the sixth straight year after their win.

Ed Oliver is questionable vs USF due to a knee contusion.

Stats pulled via the official UH Cougar Football page.

UCF 37, ECU 10

UCF went into Greenville, NC with 20 straight wins and ranked at No. 10. The Golden Knights medical staff determined that star QB McKenzie Milton had to be benched after being closely monitored in pre-game warmups. Milton had to leave the field in their previous game vs. Memphis where he tweaked his ankle on a game winning touchdown run. QB Darriel Mack Jr. had to succeed Milton on short notice and it showed in the first half, where UCF greatly depended on their defense and even a trick play to induce their first touchdown of the game with seven minutes left. Turnovers kept the Pirates from standing a chance to make a comeback attempt, especially after they fumbled the football at the UCF 1-yard line, only to be recovered and converted into a dagger defensive TD. ECU falls to 2-5, and will play Memphis after its bye. UCF continues to be on a roll and head into next week at 7-0 as they will host Temple in Orlando.

USF 38, UConn 30

No, 21 USF got off to a slow start against a UConn team that went into this game at 1-5. Turnovers and a persistent rushing attack created by the Huskies were the two factors on why this game was so close. UConn RBs dominated the ground where David Pinell had 28 carries, 197 rushing yards, and two TDs, and Kevin Mensah had 19 carries, 120 rushing yards, and two TDs. The difference came in the third quarter where the Bulls returned a kickoff for 65 yards, which led QB Blake Barnett to rush in a quick 21-yard TD. USF RBs Johnny Ford and Jordan Cronkite rushed for over 100 yards and scored three TDs. UConn falls to 1-6 and will play UMass at home. USF improves to 7-0 and will visit a Houston team that is more than capable to dethrone them from their Top 25 ranked status.

Temple 24, Cincinnati 17

Cincinnati went into this game at 6-0 and ranked 20th as they visited Temple in Philly. The Bearcats fumbled the ball twice in their opening possessions allowing Temple to score 10 early points. Temple QB Anthony Russo completed 20 of 41, 237 passing yards, three TDs and three INTs. What kept this game so close was the amount of turnovers both offenses were coughing up. The game then went into overtime tied at 17 points apiece. The Owls scored first and defended Cincinnati well on their attempt to tie the game to remain alive. But the Bearcats made a costly communication error at the point of the snap via fumble and backed themselves 10 costly yards, where they then would go on to throw a pick and ended their win streak. Cincinnati is kicked out of the Top 25 rankings and head into SMU with a 6-1 record. Temple faces a tough task at UCF and improve to 5-3.

Other Notable Results in the AAC

Arkansas 23, Tulsa 0

SMU 27, Tulane 23

Missouri 65, Memphis 33

 

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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