Pitt leads Cincinnati 16-13 at the half. The Panthers have three field goals from Kevin Harper and a touchdown run from its quarterback. The Bearcats have one less field goal and a rushing score from its field general as well.
The Bearcats kicked off the scoring with a seven-play, 74-yard drive, which resulted in a 27-yard field goal by kicker Tony Miliano. Todd Graham talked about special teams—particular the kick coverage units—being key, those units did the job off the opening kickoff, pinning the Bearcats at their own 16 to start the game. A 53-yard run by Isaiah Pead changed that. And although quarterback Zach Collaros put too much on a couple of his throws in the end zone, the Bearcats still got the early 3-0 lead.
Pitt answered Cincinnati's opening score with a 52-yard field goal from Kevin Harper; a career long for the junior kicker, and also the longest kick by a Pitt player since David Merrick had a 54-yarder against Texas in 1994. The 52-yarder is also the longest collegiate field goal kicked at Heinz Field—eclipsing Pat McAfee's (West Virginia) 51-yarder in 2006. Despite settling for the field goal, Pitt had couple big plays—namely a 12-yard scramble by Tino Sunseri and a 19-yard run by Devin Street off a reverse. Pitt couldn't get anything going in the short-yardage situations; passing, or rushing outside of those two plays. Cincinnati's front seven was giving Pitt problems early, evidenced by the sack that forced the field goal.
The Bearcats added another field goal. Again, despite keeping the Bearcats out of the end zone for a second drive in a row, Cincinnati produced a big-play. This time, it was a 27-yard pass from Collaros to Anthony McClung. Collaros scrambled for a gain of eight yards on the third down play, but was tripped up by Todd Thomas, falling just short of the first down. Miliano kicked a 40-yarder with 7:23 left in the first quarter, as Cincinnati regained the lead at 6-3.
The teams traded punts to end the first quarter, with the Bearcats holding on to a 6-3 lead. Each team had the ball three times in the first quarter. Cincinnati started two drives inside its own 20, while Pitt started one drive inside its own 20.
Pitt started the second quarter with the ball, and although they got in the red zone, they could only muster another field goal—this time a 24-yarder from Harper. Devin Street had a nice catch to get Pitt in the red zone—a tough five-yarder, which included a Cincinnati defender draped on his back—giving him three catches for 56 yards, in addition to a 19-yard run on a reverse.
Two plays into the next series, Collaros' pass was intercepted by Todd Thomas and returned to the Cincinnati 4—a gain of 39 yards by Thomas on the return. Sunseri sneaked it in for the go-ahead score, putting the Panthers up 13-6.
Pitt almost had another big break after Myles Caragein stripped Isaiah Pead of the ball at the Pitt 30. Cincinnati had driven 71 yards in nine plays, starting this series at its own 15 yard-line. It appeared that Caragein stripped Pead of the ball, and it was recovered by LaQuentin Smith. The play was reviewed, and overturned. Cincinnati kept the ball, and scored four plays later as Collaros ran it in from seven yards out.
Pitt answered with Harper's third field goal of the half—a 42-yarder, as they went up 16-13 with 1:08 left in the half. It also marked the second 11-play drive of the half that resulted in a field goal for the Panthers.
Sunseri has completed 10-of-14 passes for 128 yards, and the rushing touchdown. Collaros completed 11-of-16 for 106 yards and his rushing score. Street led Pitt in receiving yards, while Pead rushed for 101 yards in the first half.