Bearcats Fall at Home to Pitt, 33-15|
Sept. 8, 2006
CINCINNATI, Ohio - A misplay and a big play spelled doom for the University of Cincinnati, which suffered a 33-15 loss to the University of Pittsburgh at Nippert Stadium on Friday in the BIG EAST opener for both teams.
It was the first loss of the season for the Bearcats, who shutout Eastern Kentucky, 31-0, in their opener on Sept. 2. The Panthers climbed to 2-0.
The misplay was a pass thrown into double coverage by Dustin Grutza. Pitt's Kennard Cox intercepted the throw, giving the Panthers the ball on the UC 18. Two plays later, Tyler Palko found Oderick Turner in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown hookup. The score, coming with 1:49 to play in the second quarter, broke a scoreless first half.
The big play came on the first play of the second half. Palko hooked up with Derrick Kinder for an 80-yard touchdown bomb.
The Bearcats unraveled after that. Nick Davila was called for intentionally grounding the ball in the end zone, resulting in a safety. On the first play following the free kick, Palko found Kinder on a streak down the sideline for a 55-yard TD. Seven minutes into the third quarter, the Bearcat players found themselves staring at a 23-point deficit.
"We came into the game saying that the keys to victory were we had to have explosive plays and we had to limit their explosive plays," stated UC head coach Mark Dantonio. "In the end, that's what did us in--our lack of explosive plays and then too many for them.
"It's a game of inches," Dantonio continued. "You can play very, very well and then something negative happens and then you're put in a bad situation."
The Bearcats took advantage of a Panther misplay to get onto the scoreboard late in the third quarter. Brian Steel's punt was fumbled by Lowell on the Pitt 17. Bradley Glatthaar's 1-yard touchdown plunge capped a five-play scoring drive.
Pittsburgh turned a UC fumble by Greg Moore into a 30-yard field goal by Conor Lee midway through the fourth period.
In the final seconds, Grutza threw an interception that was returned 57 yards for a touchdown by Darnelle Revis.
"I thought we played solid defensively the first half," Dantonio noted. "We ran the ball some in the first half but we could never really dominate.
"Pitt has got a good football team. They're physical. They've got some skill. They're very good defensively. They're sound in everything that they're doing special teams wise. Still, we had a chance at the end to cut it to three points if we get eight and still make a game of it."
Cincinnati out-gained Pittsburgh, 398 yards to 344 in total offense. UC managed just 35 yards net rushing for the game to Pitt's 90.
Grutza finished with 189 yards passing, with 21 completions in 35 attempts. Dominick Goodman set new personal bests with eight receptions for 70 yards. John Bowie recorded a career-high 10 tackles and had a fumble recovery that he returned 24 yards.
"We've got to refocus on our goals, re-evaluate where we're at and get ready to play Ohio State," Dantonio concluded.