Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel was taken off the field on a stretcher Thursday night against Memphis after taking a hard hit to his upper body.
With less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Kiel scrambled out of the pocket and ran forward for the first down on a third and 1. As he went to slide to the ground, he took a hit to his upper body from Memphis defensive back Chauncey Lanier.
Lanier was initially called for targeting on the play, but the penalty was rescinded upon review. If upheld, the targeting call would have resulted in Lanier’s ejection. By rule, a player who is sliding to the ground is not defenseless until he is on the ground. A tackle utilizing the crown of the helmet is also required for a targeting call.
Kiel remained down on the field at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for several minutes before he was loaded onto a stretcher, which was taken off the field on a cart.
ESPN reported Kiel had movement in his toes and was able to communicate with medical personnel after being taken off the field.
The Bearcats announced Kiel was under evaluation in Cincinnati's locker room, awake and moving all four limbs. According to ESPN, he was then transferred to the University of Memphis hospital with his family and his condition remained the same.
After the game, Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said Kiel injured his neck and had “a little numbess in his hands”, and didn’t rule Kiel out for Cincinnati‘s next game, which comes next Thursday against Miami.
Kiel was set to fly back to Cincinnati on the team charter after the game.
Kiel left Saturday’s game at Miami (Ohio) after sustaining a neck injury. He passed concussion protocol and practiced all week with the Bearcats.
Before the injury, Kiel completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 63 yards and one interception. Memphis was leading 14–10 and blocked a 27-yard field goal to cap the drive after Kiel was carted off.
Redshirt freshman Hayden Moore replaced Kiel for the second consecutive game. He ended up throwing for a school-record 557 yards on 31-of-53 passing, including four touchdowns and two interceptions. The second of Moore‘s interceptions sealed a 53–46 win for Memphis.
- Mike Fiammetta