Gunner Kiel threw four touchdown passes, and freshman Andrew Gantz kicked a career-best 47-yard field goal with 15 seconds left on Thursday night, rallying Cincinnati to a 54-46 victory over East Carolina.
East Carolina's Shane Carden threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and ran two yards for a go-ahead score with 62 seconds left. But Kiel and the Bearcats (6-3, 4-1) pulled it out in a matchup of the American Athletic Conference's top offenses.
Kiel led Cincinnati in range for Gantz's field goal, and the Bearcats returned a desperation lateral for a touchdown on the final play.
The comeback overcame a gamble that backfired. Cincinnati went for it on fourth-and-two from its 33-yard line, and Kiel's errant pitch-out was fumbled with 2:03 left. Carden's touchdown run gave East Carolina (6-3, 3-2) its second lead of the game.
Kiel was 29 of 44 for 436 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. It was Kiel's best showing since the third game of the season, when he hurt his ribs.
East Carolina's Justin Hardy had 15 catches for 181 yards with one touchdown, leaving him three catches shy of the big colleges' career receiving record. Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles holds the mark with 349 receptions. Hardy also had a seven-yard touchdown run on a reverse.
Carden was 35 of 61 for 418 yards, and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
East Carolina was coming off a 20-10 loss at Temple that was set up by five turnovers on a rainy day and knocked the Pirates out of the Top 25. East Carolina is the only AAC team that's been ranked this season.
Texas-San Antonio 12, Southern Mississippi 10
Sean Ianno kicked four field goals, including a 38-yarder as time expired, and Texas-San Antonio snapped a three-game losing streak.
Ianno connected from 41 and 28 yards in the second quarter to give UTSA a 6-0 halftime lead and added a 35-yarder early in the third to boost the lead to 9-0 for UTSA (3-7, 2-4 Conference USA).
But Corey Acosta kicked a 36-yard field goal for Southern Mississippi (3-8, 1-6) just 18 seconds into the fourth quarter and Nick Mullens hit Markese Triplett with a 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the period to give the Golden Eagles a one-point lead.