CINCINNATI – Gunner Kiel tied Cincinnati's record with six touchdown passes in his debut on Friday night, and the Bearcats got a big early lead and held on for a 58-34 victory over Toledo in their season opener.
Kiel, a transfer from Notre Dame, showed off his strong and accurate arm from the outset. He completed a 52-yard pass on the game's opening play from scrimmage and hardly missed as Cincinnati (1-0) pulled ahead 34-0, throwing for four touchdowns in the first half.
Overall, Kiel was 25 of 37 for 418 yards with six touchdowns that matched Tony Pike's school record.
Toledo (1-2) rallied with three straight touchdown passes from sophomore Logan Woodside, who moved into the starting job after junior Phillip Ely tore up his right knee last week during a loss to Missouri. Woodside had touchdowns of 38 and 54 yards to Alonzo Russell, who got behind the secondary both times.
Jeremiah Detmer's 36-yard field goal cut it to 41-34 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. The Rockets piled up 214 yards in the third, with Cincinnati held to minus-2.
Kiel ended the comeback there.
He completed all six of his passes for 70 yards during a touchdown drive that put the Bearcats back in control. His 22-yard TD pass with 1:36 left got him a share of the school record.
Cincinnati was the last FBS team to open this season. The Bearcats drew 31,912 fans for the game at Paul Brown Stadium, their home this season while their on-campus Nippert Stadium is renovated.
Cincinnati has a lot of work to do on defense before it plays at Ohio State on Sept. 27. Toledo piled up 563 yards with Woodside leading a diverse offense. Woodside was 27 of 40 for 322 yards and three TDs.
Toledo's best threat is sophomore running back Kareem Hunt, who has topped 100 yards in eight of his 15 games. He ran for 136 yards in an opening win over New Hampshire, and picked up 148 yards and three touchdowns against Missouri, running behind a line that features five seniors.
Hunt ran 12 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux completed his comeback from a gruesome knee injury, getting into the game for the final series of the first half. He tore two ligaments and cartilage in his left knee during the second game last season.
Legaux was 4 for 5 for 18 yards during his one series.
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