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Ward, No. 6 Houston rally past Cincinnati

Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Greg Ward Jr. returned from a one-game absence and ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to help No. 6 Houston — steadied by its fabulous defense — pull away to a 40-16 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night.

The Cougars (3-0, 1-0 American Athletic) trailed 16-12 early in the fourth quarter before Ward and the defense took over. Ward had the scoring runs to regain the lead, and the Cougars returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns to close it out.

Ward sat out a 42-0 win over Lamar on Saturday with a sore shoulder. He came through pregame warmups fine Thursday and dispelled any worries about his arm with a 39-yard touchdown pass on the Cougars’ second series.

Houston’s defense took away any semblance of a running game from Cincinnati (2-1, 0-1) and accounted for 16 points on its own — a safety and the two interception returns.

The Cougars haven’t allowed any of their last five opponents to rush for 100 yards. Cincinnati managed only 30 yards rushing.