MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Sam Craft scored a 3-yard run with 53 seconds left to lift Memphis past Cincinnati 53-46 on Thursday night in a game marred by an injury to Bearcats starting quarterback Gunner Kiel.
Kiel was injured on a hit in the first quarter when he turned up field and was hit from the side by Chauncey Lanier. Kiel's neck and head were immobilized and he was helped off the field on a cart and taken to Methodist University Hospital.
Lanier was initially called for targeting on the play, but a video review showed it was shoulder-to-shoulder contact and Lanier remained in the game.
The teams traded touchdowns on the first four possessions of the fourth until Memphis turned it over on downs with 3:11 left. Cincinnati was forced to punt with 2:27 remaining and Memphis marched down the field in six plays for the go-ahead score.
Leonard Pegues intercepted a tipped pass to seal it.
Paxton Lynch threw for 412 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis (4-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference). Craft ran for two scores, and Jarvis Cooper and Mose Frazier added one apiece on the ground. Anthony Miller caught five passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Memphis is 4-0 for the first time since 1961 and is on an 11-game winning streak — tying TCU for the second-longest current run in the FBS.
It took everything the Tigers had in a game that saw 12 lead changes and 1,322 total yards.
Freshman Hayden Moore passed for a school-record 557 yards and threw four touchdown passes for Cincinnati (2-2, 0-2). Max Morrison caught nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Moore added 153 yards and a score on five receptions, and Shaq Washington had nine catches for 120 yards and a touchdown
The Bearcats gained 752 yards to break the school record of 711 set against Connecticut in 2009. They also set school marks with 38 first downs and 100 total plays.
Kiel was 7 of 11 for 63 yards before his injury.
"Under evaluation at the hospital. Awake. Talking. Everything is coming back normal," Bearcats sports information director Ryan Koslen said in an email message to The Associated Press.
Kiel was released from the hospital after the game and accompanied the team back to Cincinnati, Koslen later said.
Kiel started the game after sustaining what was initially diagnosed as a mild concussion Saturday when his head slammed into the ground in Cincinnati's victory at Miami of Ohio.