NCAA Game Summary - Cincinnati at Pittsburgh|
(Saturday, December 5th)
Final Score: (5) Cincinnati 45, (14) Pittsburgh 44
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Tony Pike found Armon Binns with a 29-yard
touchdown pass with 33 seconds remaining and the extra point by Jake Rogers
gave fifth-ranked Cincinnati a stunning 45-44 come-from-behind victory over
No. 14 Pittsburgh in a thrilling Big East finale at Heinz Field.
Cincinnati (12-0, 7-0 Big East) rallied from a 21-point first-half deficit and
captured its second straight outright Big East title. The Bearcats lost their
outside chance of reaching the BCS National Championship Game after Texas
edged Nebraska, 13-12, in the Big 12 title game Saturday night.
Mardy Gilyard sparked Cincinnati's comeback with a 99-yard kickoff return for
a touchdown and a 68-yard TD catch. He finished with 118 yards receiving on
five catches and also totaled 256 yards on seven kickoff returns.
"That was just a great football game. When you imagine a championship game,
the snow falling and the stands packed and two outstanding football teams just
going after it, this game was it," said Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. "It was
special to be a part of and I told the guys that I was honored to be their
coach. These guys are a special group of guys and they stuck to our motto of
just keep fighting."
The loss spoiled a tremendous day for Pittsburgh freshman Dion Lewis, who ran
for 194 yards and three touchdowns on a school-record 47 carries. He also
caught five passes for 34 yards.
Pittsburgh (9-3, 5-2) was coming off a 19-16 loss to arch-rival West Virginia
in the annual Backyard Brawl last week and raced out a 31-10 lead on Saturday
in an effort to claim a share of the Big East title and the conference's BCS
Instead, it will be the Bearcats going to a major bowl for the second straight
year. Cincinnati lost to Virginia Tech last year in the Orange Bowl.
After Cincinnati tied the game at 38-38 with 5:46 remaining on a one-yard run
by Isaiah Pead and a two-point conversion catch by Gilyard, the Panthers went
back in front on a five-yard touchdown run by Lewis with 1:36 left. The snap
on the extra point attempt was botched and the Panthers led only by six.
Gilyard returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards to the Cincinnati 39 and Pike
went right to work with completions of seven and 10 yards. Gilyard then hauled
in a 15-yard pass and Pike went to another receiver on the next play, hitting
Binns on the right sideline for the touchdown.
Rogers, who earlier in the fourth quarter hit the right upright on a point-
after try, drilled it through for the go-ahead point.
"We run the two-minute drill all the time in practice and I knew we had a
chance to win at the end of the game and we needed to react," said Pike. "In
the beginning of the game, we were forcing things and over thinking and as the
game went on, we were more patient and we were reacting. The defense was there
for us. They weren't in position in the first half and they were missing
tackles and we made the adjustment at the half and got some stops. It was a
typical championship game in order for us to win back-to-back Big East
The Panthers took over at their own 18 after the kickoff and Bill Stull threw
incomplete on three straight passes before being sacked on fourth down to seal
the incredible Cincinnati comeback.
Stull completed 13-of-21 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns and two
interceptions. He also ran for a score. Jonathan Baldwin caught six passes for
113 yards and two touchdowns in defeat.
Pike rebounded from a terrible first half and finished 22-of-44 passing for
302 yards with three touchdowns and three picks. Pead ran for 76 yards on nine
carries in the victory.
After Cincinnati went three-and-out to start the game, Pittsburgh rode Lewis
to a score on its first offensive series. Lewis ran 11 times and caught a pass
on the 12-play, 56-yard series. He converted 4th-and-1 with a four-yard run
and finished the 6 1/2-minute drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
The Bearcats answered with a 66-yard march for a touchdown. Pead broke free
for 40 yards on the second play and Jacob Ramsey finished the seven-play set
with a two-yard scoring run. The drive was aided by a pass interference
penalty on a third-down incomplete pass in the end zone two plays before the
Pittsburgh again used a 12-play drive -- and an overturned call -- to reach
the end zone on its next possession. Lewis again did the bulk of the work with
seven carries and a reception, also converting another short fourth down with
a four-yard run. The Panthers were set to attempt a field goal after a pass to
the end zone was ruled incomplete, but a video review determined that Baldwin
got one foot down on a 22-yard reception in the first minute of the second
quarter to give Pittsburgh a 14-7 lead.
Cincinnati followed with a march inside the Pittsburgh five, again with the
help of a pass interference penalty in the end zone, but the Panthers were
able to hold the Bearcats to a 20-yard field goal by Rogers.
It took just 44 seconds for the Panthers to respond, as a flea flicker
resulted in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Stull to Baldwin for a 21-10 lead.
Pike was picked off by Dom DeCicco on the ensuing series, giving Pittsburgh
the ball at the Cincinnati 49. The Panthers tacked on three more after the
turnover, as Dan Hutchins booted a 33-yard field goal with 4:53 left in the
The problems for Cincinnati continued on the next possession, as Nate Nix
blocked a Bearcat punt. The Panthers took over on the Cincinnati five-yard
line and Stull scored on a three-yard scramble to make it 31-10 just 1:26
before the break.
Gilyard, though, breathed life back into the Bearcats on the following
kickoff, returning it 99 yards for a touchdown.
"I thought the kickoff return for a touchdown completely changed the momentum
of the game," admitted Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt. "I thought we had it
in the first half. We knew Gilyard was good. The first three kickoffs, he
didn't get past the 25."
The Cincinnati defense finally forced a Pittsburgh punt and a short kick with
a personal foul penalty gave the Bearcats the ball at the Panthers 35. Pike,
though was picked off by Elijah Fields on the first play and Pittsburgh
appeared set to score again before the half with the ball at the Cincinnati
44. Stull went deep and was intercepted by Aaron Webster, and the Bearcats got
far enough to try a 55-yard field goal on the last play of the half that came
up well short and wide.
After a trade of punts to start the third quarter, Gilyard again provided the
fireworks with a 68-yard touchdown. He caught a pass from Pike at the
Pittsburgh 40 and outraced the remaining defenders to the end zone to pull the
Bearcats within 31-24 with 8:12 to play in the period.
Cincinnati got the ball back after a Pitt punt and Pike was again picked off,
this time by Jarred Holley at the Panther 17 late in the third. Stull, though,
was intercepted on the first play of the fourth quarter inside the Cincinnati
A short punt gave Pittsburgh possession at the Cincinnati 32 and Lewis ran
four straight times -- the last a 15-yard jaunt for a score and a 38-24 lead
with 12:26 remaining.
Gilyard's 49-yard return on the next kickoff set up a short field and Pike
needed four plays to find the end zone, hitting DJ Woods with an eight-yard TD
pass. Rogers hit the upright on the point-after try, leaving the Bearcats down
Pittsburgh went three-and-out and Pike marched the Cincinnati offense 68 yards
on seven plays for Pead's tying score and the two-point pass.
Lewis registered his seventh straight 100-yard game. He broke the old record
of 42 carries set by Craig "Ironhead" Heyward in a 1987 game against Notre
Dame...Gilyard notched his fourth career kickoff return for a touchdown. He
also had one punt return for seven yards...The Bearcats outgained the
Panthers, 371-369, despite Pittsburgh's overwhelming possession edge. The
Panthers held the ball for just over 39 minutes...Cincinnati has won the last
two meetings after Pittsburgh captured each of the first seven.
12/05 23:50:09 ET