The Cincinnati Bearcats committed many of the same mistakes that led to an upset loss to Louisville last week in helping to make the Pittsburgh Panthers' homecoming a happy one on Saturday afternoon.
Turnovers and penalties again plagued the Bearcats. Three Bearcat turnovers in the fourth quarter helped the Panthers record their third win of the season. Cincinnati fumbled twice and was intercepted once. The Bearcats managed to get one Panther turnover when DeAngelo Smith intercepted a Pat Bostick pass at the Bearcat 6-yard-line on the first play of the final quarter, but the Bearcats fumbled the ball back to the Panthers a few plays later on the 22-yard-line.
After committing 11 penalties last week, the Bearcats had a variety of costly fouls totally 12 on the afternoon for 98 yards. Three of the miscues came from the center postion on illegal procedure calls, but there was plenty of blame to go around.
The biggest surprise of the day was the ease with which the Panthers were able to run the football. True freshman LeSean McCoy seemed to toy with Bearcat defenders as he often left them grasping at air on his way to gaining 140 yards on 25 carries. LaRod Stephens-Howling was nearly as elusive and gained 100 yards on only 13 carries. Particularly disturbing was McCoy's ability to run out the clock at the end of the game by getting two first downs even though the Bearcat defense knew the Panthers would rush the football.
Even the usually reliable special teams were anything but special. Kickoff returns averaged only 16.8 yards, punting was inconsistent and a short field goal try went awry just before the half.
Both of UC's starting defensive ends, Angelo Craig and Anthony Hoke, did not play in the first quarter due to a violation of team rules earlier in the day, but the Bearcats did look good early. Ben Mauk's 55 yard scamper on UC's first possession helped lead the Bearcats to an opening touchdown. Later in that initial period, Pittsburgh gambled on a 4th and inches on their own 28-yard-line but failed to pick-up the needed yard and turned the ball over on downs. But the Bearcats had two illegal procedure penalties that kept them from moving the football, and UC settled for a 36 yard field goal and early 10-0 lead.
The Bearcats were outscored 14-0 in the second half, and it seemed every time Cincinnati got any offensive momentum, the Bearcats either turned the ball over or committed a costly foul. All three of Cincinnati's possessions in the final quarter resulted in turnovers. The average field position for UC in that final period was their own 16-yard-line while Pitt's was their own 44-yard-line.
The Bearcats enter their bye week with a 6-2 record and will head to Tampa to play the University of South Florida Bulls on Saturday, November 3-rd.
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