Nov. 12, 2011
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CINCINNATI – The No. 23/18 University of Cincinnati football team (7-2, 3-1 BIG EAST) was handed its first BIG EAST loss when it was defeated by West Virginia (7-3, 3-2 BIG EAST), 24-21, on Saturday afternoon in Paul Brown Stadium. It was the largest conference crowd in UC history with 48,152 fans.
Senior quarterback Zach Collaros went 7-of-11 for 70 yards before leaving the game due to injury midway through the second quarter, while backup quarterback Munchie Legaux completed 10-of-21 passes for 144 yards and one rushing touchdown. Senior running back Isaiah Pead finished with 19 rushes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while senior JK Schaffer leads with nine tackles. The UC defense had 18 tackles for loss against WVU.
After trailing for the majority of the game, the Bearcats had a chance to tie things up as time expired, but a blocked Tony Miliano field goal resulted in the West Virginia victory.
The Bearcats forced the Mountaineers to a three-and-out on the opening possession and took quick control of the ball game in a three-play, 54-yard drive capped by a 40-yard rush by Pead to give UC the early lead just one minute in.
WVU evened it up moments later when quarterback Geno Smith threw a deep 59-yard pass to Stedman Bailey, who sped past two UC defenders and ran it in for the touchdown.
A defensive holding penalty on a third-and-goal kept UC’s next scoring drive alive, but Collaros failed to execute on third-down. Just as Miliano lined up for the field goal, an offsides call was made on WVU, and the offense marched back on the field. However, the Mountaineers made a goal-line stand and took over on their own one-yard line. But the visitors didn’t make it much further than that, turning it over on downs with 8:08 left in the first quarter.
Their next possession was a different story, as the Mountaineers took their first lead of the day with a field goal to make it 10-7, with 9:35 till the break.
As the Bearcats attempted to respond, Collaros was sacked and fumbled the ball in the end zone, tacking on another seven points for the Mountaineers. However, the play left Collaros injured on the field and Legaux entered the game with UC down by 10 midway through the second quarter.
A blocked field goal by sophomore Deven Drane sparked a momentum shift at the 8:48 mark of the third quarter. Legaux ran it 65 yards to the WVU 31-yard line to begin the ensuing drive, but the Mountaineers stopped the scoring drive and Miliano’s field goal attempt went wide left to keep the score 17-7.
Legaux pulled the Bearcats back into the game with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter with the help of Pead, who tacked on 45 yards to pull UC within three, 17-14. As the Mountaineers were driving down the field on its next possession, junior defensive lineman Walter Stewart recovered a WVU fumble, allowing Pead to add another touchdown to give the hosts their first lead since its first touchdown, 21-17.
It didn’t take long for West Virginia to regain the lead, as it drove 74 yards down the field for the touchdown to make it 24-21 with 8:46 left. It tried to extend the lead, but a wide field goal gave the Bearcats possession arrow and a chance to take the lead. However, a blocked Miliano kick as time expired resulted in the Moutaineers the victory.
Cincinnati will begin a two-game road swing when it travels to Rutgers next Saturday, Nov. 19 before returning to Nippert Stadium to take on Connecticut for Senior Day. The Rutgers' game time is TBA.