Toronto Kevin Lovell's 33-yard, fourth-quarter field goal lifted Cincinnati to a 27-24 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday in the International Bowl - the first college bowl played in Canada and first outside the United States since 1937.
Lovell's kick with 8:49 left came after a 7-yard touchdown run by Western Michigan's Brandon West tied it. The Bearcats led 24-0 early in the second quarter, and barely held on. The Broncos had a chance to force overtime with 1:21 remaining, but Nate Meyer's 51-yard field-goal attempt was wide.
Brian Kelly enjoyed a winning debut as Bearcats coach. Kelly began the season at Central Michigan before going to Cincinnati on Dec. 4 to replace Mark Dantonio, who went to Michigan State. Kelly led Central Michigan past the Broncos 31-7 on Nov. 10, making him the first NCAA coach to earn beat a school in the same season with two teams.
Dominick Goodman, the game MVP with seven catches for 109 yards, had two touchdowns for Cincinnati with John Bowie scoring the other. Lovell added two field goals. Jamarko Simmons and Herb Martin scored touchdowns for the Broncos. Meyer added a field goal.
Cincinnati (8-5, 4-3 Big East) made its fifth bowl appearance in seven years and first since beating Marshall 32-14 in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl.
Western Michigan (8-5, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) made its first bowl appearance since 1988 and third in school history. While the Broncos have yet to win one, they've made improvements under coach Bill Cubit, who took over a program that lost 10 games in 2004.
The game was played before a Rogers Centre crowd of 26,717.
"I am absolutely ecstatic," bowl director Don Loding said. "We had a great football game, a great crowd and great energy in the building. We've brought NCAA football across the border. Now we look to come back bigger and better, we keep building and growing."
Bowie opened the scoring, returning an interception 25 yards for the touchdown at 3:28 of the first quarter. Davila's 21-yard touchdown pass to Goodman at 8:33 put Cincinnati up 14-0. The two combined on a second 21-yard touchdown just 30 seconds into the second quarter.
Western Michigan used trickery to get on the board. E.J. Biggers, a sophomore cornerback, hit a streaking Simmons on a 76-yard option pass off a double reverse at 5:15. That lifted the Broncos, who forced Cincinnati to punt, then put together a 75-yard march that Ryan Cubit ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Martin at 9:25.
"The trick plays kept us running all over the field," Cincinnati linebacker Kevin McCullough said.
"I'm sure a lot of people on the sidelines and in the stands thought we had this game but I knew it would come down to the final drive."