Bearcats Win River City Rivalry, Top Pitt 34-10
So. RB Ralph David Abernathy IV

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CINCINNATI -- Junior quarterback Munchie Legaux rushed for a career-high 132 yards and passed for another 205 and two touchdowns to lead the University of Cincinnati football team to a season-opening 34-10 win over Pittsburgh in front of 33,562 Thursday night at Nippert Stadium.

In addition to Legaux's career day, UC senior running back George Winn rushed for a career-best 101 yards on just 11 carries and added two touchdowns, while sophomore Ralph David Abernathy IV produced a game-high 71 receiving yards and two scores of his own - both personal bests.

Cincinnati's defense, which finished 2011 second in the NCAA FBS in sacks and first in tackles for loss, picked up where it left off a year ago, sacking Pitt quarterback Tino Suneri six times and recording 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Bearcats middle linebacker Greg Blair led the UC defense by produced a career-high 10 total tackles. Senior defensive ends Walter Stewart and Dan Giordano followed after each produced nine stops and combined for 2½ sacks.

Cincinnati built a 14-0 lead just 4 minutes, 56 seconds into the game with two quick scoring drives and never looked back.

After the Bearcats defense forced a three-and-out on Pitt's opening drive, Winn ripped a 58-yard touchdown run on their first offensive play from scrimmage for a 7-0 UC lead.

Winn's score marked the second year in a row Cincinnati recorded a touchdown on its season-opening play from scrimmage after Isiah Pead produced a 40-yard scamper against Austin Peay on Sept. 3, 2011.

Cincinnati executed a four-play, 38-yard drive on its second possession that was capped by Abernathy IV's first-career touchdown reception; a 15-yard catch-and-run down the left sideline that doubled the Bearcats lead to 14 points.

The Panthers threatened on their third possession, driving to the UC 38-yard line, but Bearcats linebacker Nick Temple sacked Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri on third-and-three for a 12-yard setback; Cincinnati's third sack of the first quarter.

Pittsburgh had two first-and-goal scoring opportunities in the second quarter, but came away with no points.

Pitt had a first-and-goal situation midway through the second quarter after Sunseri underhanded the football to running back Ray Graham just before getting brought down by three Bearcat defenders for a 31-yard gain to the UC 7-yard line. On the ensuing play, a holding call nullified a potential Graham touchdown. Three plays later, the Pittsburgh native Blair intercepted Sunseri in the end zone, preserving UC's 14-point lead.

Bearcats sophomore kicker Tony Miliano's 39-yard field goal with 2:51 left in the second quarter put Cincinnati in front 17-0.

Pitt ran its 2-minute offense effectively, driving all the way down to the Cincinnati 2-yard line with 5 seconds left in the half. However, on the final play of the second quarter, the Bearcats defense forced Sunseri into an incomplete pass out of the back of the end zone.

UC outgained Pitt 220-206 in the first half, including 113 yards on 8-of-16 passing from Legaux.

Graham shot off a 58-yard run on Pitt's first possession of the second half, highlighting a 12-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal from Pitt kicker Kevin Harper at the 7-minute mark.

The Bearcats responded with a two-play, 86-yard touchdown drive to make the score 24-3 with 6:05 left in the third period. The drive, which began with Legaux rushing for 77 yards, was capped by a 9-yard rushing TD from Winn.

Legaux and Abernathy IV connected on their second touchdown pass with 13:54 left in the game, putting the game out of reach after increasing Cincinnati's advantage to 31-3.

Miliano added a second field goal - a 46-yarder with 3:55 left in the fourth - to increase the Bearcats lead to 34-3.

Pittsburgh finally got into the end zone in garbage time when Sunseri found sophomore tight end Drew Carswell for a 9-yard TD pass with 34 seconds left in the game.

Cincinnati's next game will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 versus Delaware State at Nippert Stadium.