CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ben Mauk threw for two touchdowns Thursday night in a triumphant comeback from severe injuries to his passing arm, and Cincinnati beat Southeast Missouri State 59-3 in the debut of coach Brian Kelly's wide-open offense.
Cincinnati (1-0) had one of the top offensive showings in school history, setting up its most lopsided victory since a 63-0 win over Louisiana Monroe in 1977. Mauk put the Bearcats in control, completing 18-of-27 for 244 yards with one interception in less than three quarters.
The Bearcats piled up 615 yards, third-most in school history.
It was Cincinnati's first regular-season game under Kelly, who got the job when Mark Dantonio left for Michigan State before the International Bowl last season. Kelly brought his coaching staff from Central Michigan, led the Bearcats to a bowl victory, then started installing his no-huddle offense in its entirety.
Kelly needed a quarterback who could make his five-receiver sets work. He found one in Mauk, a former Ohio Mr. Football who kept the Bearcats on the move against Southeast Missouri State (0-1).
The Ohio Valley Conference team fell to 1-12 against Division I-A, now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Besides energizing the offense, Kelly has tried to sell Bearcats football to a city that considers it an afterthought. The opener drew only 20,223, roughly 15,000 below the stadium's capacity.
Things went much better on the field.
Mauk started Wake Forest's opener last season and dislocated his right shoulder and broke his right arm while trying to recover a fumble. With his season finished, he got his undergraduate degree and came to Cincinnati for his graduate work and another chance to run an offense.
Mauk won a three-way competition for the starting job because of his comfort in the five-receiver sets. He smoothly blended down-the-field throws, shovel passes and quarterback draws. By halftime, the Bearcats had 373 yards and led 19-3 -- a missed field goal, two missed extra points, a fumble and an interception kept the score down.
Early in the second quarter, he showed why he was one of the nation's top prep passers at Kenton High School. Running to his right to avoid the rush, Mauk threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Marshwan Gilyard, who beat a defender down the right sideline.
Butler Benton ran for 101 yards and scored twice, once on a 13-yard pass from Mauk. Cincinnati pulled away with the help of four fumbles and two interceptions.
Cornerback Mike Mickens intercepted Victor Anderson's pass in the end zone to end one early threat. He later picked off a pass by Houston Lillard -- the Redhawks' other quarterback -- and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
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