Cincy QB Injured in Loss
Cincinnati (AP) — Geno Smith threw for 372 yards and led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that rallied West Virginia to a 24-21 victory Saturday over No. 23 Cincinnati — which lost both quarterback Zach Collaros and control of the Big East race. Eain Smith blocked Tony Miliano's attempt for a tying 31-yard field goal as time ran out, giving the Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2) a win they needed to stay in contention. The Bearcats (7-2, 3-1) lost Collaros to a lower-leg injury in the second quarter and he watched the rest of the game on crutches from the sideline with his right foot and ankle heavily wrapped. Untested sophomore quarterback Munchie Legaux got the 48,152 fans at Paul Brown Stadium chanting his first name when he led the Bearcats to a pair of touchdowns for a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Legaux ran 7 yards for a score, and Isaiah Pead went 10 yards for his second touchdown. Smith directed a 10-play drive that culminated in Shawne Alston's 1-yard run for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:52 left. Smith was 29 of 43 with a touchdown and no interceptions. The Bearcats lost their senior quarterback in the second quarter, when Collaros retreated from the pass rush to extend a play and got tackled by end Bruce Irvin at the goal line. Collaros lost the ball and his right leg got twisted beneath him as he went down. Julian Miller fell on the ball in the end zone for a 17-7 lead. Collaros lay on the ground, both hands on his forehead. He put no weight on the right leg as he was helped to a cart to leave the field for an exam. The school provided no information about the severity of the injury. That injury changed the whole Big East race. A win would have put the Bearcats in range of their third title in four years. On came Legaux, who had thrown only seven passes all season. His second throw was picked off and Cincinnati's offense went nowhere the rest of the half, with West Virginia playing conservatively. For the fourth straight game, Cincinnati overcame a deficit of at least nine points to take a second-half lead. This time, it didn't stand up. Legaux was 10 of 21 for 144 yards with the interception. Pead carried 19 times for 113 yards and two scores. The Mountaineers have been one of the conference's mainstays, finishing first or second in each of the last nine years. WVU knew it had to have this one to stay in contention for the title. A sign of the high stakes: Coach Dana Holgorsen threatened to leave players behind for Saturday's game if they didn't have the right attitude. By contrast, the Bearcats were on quite a surge, winning six in a row. They've even come up with their own victory song, dancing to "Get The Dub" each time they come away with a "W'' from a game. They wore all-red uniforms Saturday for the first time since 1993, another indication of how much this one meant. It started with big-play drama. Pead weaved his way past defenders along the left sideline on a 40-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. Smith found Stedman Bailey beyond the coverage for a 59-yard touchdown pass that tied it. Pead had a 19-yard catch and 33-yard run that helped Cincinnati get to the 1-yard line, where Collaros was stopped inches short of the goal line on a fourth-down draw play. Tavon Austin turned a quick slant into a 39-yard gain then went 21 yards with a shovel pass. Tyler Bitancurt's 28-yard field goal gave West Virginia its first lead at 10-7 early in the second quarter. On Cincinnati's next possession, the Bearcats lost their most indispensable player and everything changed.
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