Backup quarterback Chazz Anderson almost played hero for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The junior entered in place of Zach Collaros with 3:25 to play with the Bearcats on their own 29-yard line, trailing South Florida 38-30.
"It's a difficult position to put Chazz into and I thought he did a good job of coming in," said UC head coach Butch Jones. "There was no doubt that he was going to lead us down for a score and the two-point conversion. Our team has great faith and great confidence in him, we just came up a little bit short."
Anderson completed four of his first five passes for 49 yards and a pass-interference penalty against the Bulls set the Bearcats 21 yards away from possibly forcing overtime.
Anderson gained five yards on the ground on first down, but the 16-yard line was as close Cincinnati would come. Anderson's incompletion on fourth down gave South Florida the ball with seven seconds remaining.
"I'm proud of our kids," Jones said. "They could have stopped and quit playing and I thought obviously they played until the bitter end. We had an opportunity there to score and go for a two-point conversion and try to get it to overtime."
Before leaving the game with stiffness in his leg, Collaros completed 30 of 53 passes for three touchdowns, one interception and 463 yards -- third most in school history.
The extent of his injury was not known immediately following the game.
"He'll undergo examination and we'll know a little bit more probably tonight," Jones said.
Should Collaros be unable to play next week against Syracuse, Anderson will likely start his first game since wins against Marshall and Rutgers in 2008.
"There will be an open competition, but right now Chazz is ahead with experience," Jones said. "He's really been doing a great job in practice, but I don't know what Zach's status is right now."
For the first time in school history, Cincinnati had three wide receivers finish with more than 100 yards. Armon Binns caught a career-high 12 passes and two touchdowns, while D.J. Woods and Marcus Barnett each had nine receptions.
High passing numbers reflected Cincinnati's inability to establish a running game behind Isaiah Pead. The junior carried 15 times for 48 yards.
"For us to really be effective, we need to run the football, Jones said. "They took the run game away from us, which obviously forced us to throw the football. We want to have balance."
Despite the loss in their Big East home opener, the Bearcats still have hopes of hoisting a third-straight league championship.
"We still control our own destiny," Jones said. "The only way to fix it is you go back to work tomorrow and try to correct your mistakes and get better as a football team. I believe in our kids. I know that they'll do that. There's 105 disappointed young men, but we can't have self-inflicted mistakes."
With his three field goals and three extra points, Cincinnati senior kicker Jacob Rogers became the school's all-time leading scorer with 316 points.
"It's a great accomplishment for Jake. He's had a great career here and he's really had a great year for us," Jones said. "We're going to need him as the season progresses."