Bearcats Pass first Road Test, Beat Pitt 27-21
By: Ryan Roberts
On Saturday night at Pittsburgh's Acrisure Stadium, a rivalry renewed as the Cincinnati Bearcats took on the Pitt Panthers. The Bearcats, coming off a 66-13 win over Eastern Kentucky, were looking to extend their win streak over Pitt to three games. Even though the two hadn't played since 2012, there was still plenty of juice in the stadium and that was apparent during the pregame warm ups as the Pitt student section arrived early and were extremely vocal towards the Bearcat players during warm ups.
Photo by Ryan Luster
The game opened with the defense forcing a 3 and out by the Pitt offense and the Cincinnati offense picked up where they left off in the EKU game.
On the second play of the Cincinnati drive, Aaron Turner took an end around 25 yards and a 15 yard penalty moved the Bearcats to the Pitt 23 yard line. Corey Kiner took the next play 11 yards to the Pitt 12 yard line and Emory Jones found Payton Singletary for a 12 yard touchdown on the fourth play of the drive. With 13:06 remaining in the first quarter, the Bearcats held a 7-0 lead. The drive: 4 plays, 64 yards in 1:24.
The second Pitt offensive drive ended the same way as the first drive.. Three and out. The drive was keyed by an Eric Phillips relentless pass rush and sack on Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Pitt's offense was held to negative 3 yards through their first two drives.
The offense would once again use a big chunk play to get their drive rolling as Corey Kiner took the first play of the second drive 68 yards to the Pitt 11 yard line. Emory Jones followed that with a 7 yard rush to the Pitt 4 yard line but a tackle for loss on the next play would force the Bearcats to use kicker Carter Brown for a 22 yard field goal to extend their lead to 10-0 with 8:57 remaining in the first quarter. The drive: 5 plays 74 yards 2:20
Pitt would finally get things going on their third drive of the game. On 3rd and 9 at their own 26, Phil Jurkovec found receiver Konata Mumfield for a 30 yard gain. Deshawn Pace was charged with roughing the passer for a 15 yard penalty on the play and Pitt was moved to the Cincinnati 29 yard line. After an incompletion in the end zone, Jurkovec found Daejon Reynolds for a 17 yard gain to the UC 3 yard line. The defense was able to push Pitt back to the 6 yard line on the next play with a 3 yard tackle for loss, but Jurkovec would find Mumfield again two plays later for a 5 yard touchdown on 3rd and goal. With 4:17 remaining in the first quarter, UC led 10-7. Pitt Scoring drive: 10 plays 74 yards 4 minutes 40 seconds.
Pitt defense forced a 3 and out after the score and Pitt opened their next drive with a 38 yard C'Bo Flemister rush to the Cincinnati 23 yard line. The defense would hold strong and respond with back to back tackles for loss followed by an incomplete Jurkovec pass on 3rd and 11. Ben Sauls came on for Pitt to attempt a 42 yard field goal but pushed it right and Cincinnati maintained their 10-7 lead.
After outgaining the Panthers 144-104 in the first quarter, the Bearcats would start the second quarter on their own 45 as Emory Jones completed a 20 yard pass to Braden Smith following the missed field goal. The Bearcats were helped by an offsides call on Pitt to give them a 3rd and 5 from midfield and Corey Kiner got the Bearcats to the Pitt 37 on the next play with a 13 yard rush.
Photo by Ryan Luster
Scott Satterfield then turned to his bag of tricks. Braden Smith took a quick pitch to the short side of the field and found Dee Wiggins down the sideline for a 30 yard gain to the Pitt 7. On the next play, running back Corey Kiner would take his sixth carry of the game in to the end zone for a 7 yard score to extend the Bearcats lead to 17-7 with 13:20 left in the second quarter. The 7 yard gain put Kiner at 100 yards for his second consecutive 100 yard rushing game. The scoring drive was a 7 play, 76 yard drive in 3:07.
Pitt was able to establish the run on the next drive and drive to the Bearcats 42 yard line after converting a 4th and 2 from midfield, but the defense once again answered the call and forced Pitt to punt. Justin Harris, who was filling in for cornerback Sammy Anderson Jr, had a big pass break up on 2nd and 12 to force the Panthers in to a tough down and distance situation that led to another incomplete pass on 3rd and 12.
A nice punt by Pitt's Caleb Junkjo would pin the Bearcats back on their own 1 yard line.
Corey Kiner gave the Cats some breathing room with an 11 yard run, followed by a Jones to Wiggins 13 yard completion to advance Cincinnati out to their 32 yard line. Jones would Cconnect with Xzavier Henderson on the next play for a 10 yard gain to move the Cincinnati offense out to the 42 yard line. Corey Kiner took his 8th carry 9 yards to the Pitt 36 but a 2 yard loss put Cincinnati in a 4th and 3 situation at the Pitt 38 with 1:52 remaining in the half. Scott Satterfield elected to go for it and picked up 9 yards on a screen from Jones to Kiner to advance the Cats to the Pitt 29.
The Bearcats would cap off a 17 play, 69 yard drive with a 47 yard field goal by Carter Brown to head in to the locker room with a 20-7 advantage. The offense held the ball for 8:17 to close the half as they outgained Pitt 263-136 during the first 30 minutes of play.
UC received the second half kickoff but the offense was unable to get anything going as they were forced to punt the ball to Pitt after a 7 play drive that resulted in just 12 yards.
The defense once again answered the call. On the first play of the Pitt drive, Taj Ward hit Phil Jurkovec on a scramble and recorded his first career forced fumble and recovery to give the Bearcats the ball back at the Pitt 36 yard line. Three plays later, Emory Jones found Braden Smith for a diving catch in the end zone for a 21 yard touchdown to extend the Bearcats lead to 27-7 with 9:17 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The drive: 4 plays, 36 yards, 1:44.
Neither team could get anything going offensively until the final drive of the quarter by Pitt that began at the Cincinnati 49.
Aided by 30 yards in defensive pass interference calls on two separate 3rd down situations, Pitt was able to drive to the UC 9 yard line.
The third quarter ended with Cincinnati holding a 27-7 advantage.
On 4th and goal just 12 seconds in to the 4th quarter, Phil Jurkovec found Konata Mumpfield for a 9 yard touchdown to cut the Pitt deficit to 10, 27-17. The 7 play, 48 yard drive spanned 2:06 between the 3rd and 4th quarters.
Needing to get something going and swing momentum back in favor of the Bearcats, Emory Jones started the ensuing drive with a 17 yard completion to Dee Wiggins. UC couldn't sustain the momentum and would have to punt from midfield 3 plays later with Pitt now gaining confidence on both sides of the ball.
The first play of the ensuing Pitt drive saw Phil Jurkoved find his tight end, Gavin Bartholomew, for a 60 yard gain to the Cincinnati 26 yard line. Following a 10 yard defensive holding penalty, Pitt had a 1st and 10 at the UC 16 yard line. Two plays later, Jurkovec once again found his tight end, Bartholomew, for a 16 yard touchdown. With 11:53 remaining, Pitt closed to within 27-21 and Cincinnati needing points in a bad way as they had just 66 yards of offense in the second half.
Photo by Ryan Luster
In the first half, UC had just one penalty for 15 yards. In the second half, the Bearcats had 5 penalties for 60 yards with the crucial one coming on a 4th and 1 at their own 44 with 7:18 left. Instead of being able to go for it to extend the drive for a second time, they were forced to punt with Pitt taking over at their own 14.
The first play of the Pitt drive? Another 15 yard passing interference call on the defense.
Bryan Brown's defense didn't let it affect them as the defense pinned their ears back and got three consecutive stops to force Pitt to punt the ball from their own 26 with 6:17 remaining in the game. Scott Satterfield's offense would take over at their own 22.
Photo by Ryan Luster
After picking up 2 yards on the first play of the drive, Pitt's defense recorded a sack on 2nd down to put the Cincinnati offense in a hole at 3rd and 13 from their own 19. On the very next play, Emory Jones threw an interception to Pitt's Marquis Williams for the first Cincinnati turnover of the game.
Pitt's Phill Jurkovec rushed 14 yards to the UC 29 two plays later and Bryan Brown's defense was in serious need of a stop with the clock winding down and the Cats clinging to a 6 point lead. Back to back incompletions by Jurkovec put Pitt in a 4th and 9 situation and linebacker Jack Dingle came up with the biggest defensive play of the game as he sacked Jurkovec for an 11 yard loss to give the offense the ball back at their own 39 with 4:10 remaining.
Photo by Ryan Luster
Needing a first down to ice the game and Pitt calling their final timeout of the second half, Cincinnati found themselves in a 3rd and 4 situation with 3:22 remaining. Jones and the offense responded with a 4 yard completion to Dee Wiggins and it looked as though the Bearcats would escape with a road scalp, despite a furious second half comeback by Pitt.
Corey Kiner picked up a 10 yard gain 2 plays later and the Bearcats would close out the Panthers and exit the Acrisure Stadium field with a 27-21 victory.
- Cincinnati outgained Pitt 271-362 but were held to 108 2nd half yards
- Corey Kiner finished with a career high 153 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries
- Braden Smith led the receiving group with 59 yards and a touchdown on 5 carries
- Cincinnati has now won three consecutive match ups against Pitt
- Scott Satterfield improves to 2-1 against Pat Narduzzii
- UC had 6 penalties for 75 yards in the second half. 7 penalties for 90 yards for the game
- Bryan Threats and Jack Dingle tied for a team high 7 tackles, apiece. Dingle also had 2 tackles for loss and a sack in the 4th quarter
Cincinnati hosts Miami (OH) Saturday September 16th in the Battle for the Victory Bell. UC currently holds a 55-53 series advantage and has won 16 consecutive games against the RedHawks.
Scott Satterfield will preview the match up on Tuesday afternoon.
Photos by Ryan Luster