On this day in 2009, the Cincinnati Bearcats met up with the Pittsburgh Panthers in the defacto Big East title game. This game has been the zenith of Cincinnati Bearcats football. It was the game that fueled me to start this blog. I wanted to talk to Cincinnati fans about this game and enjoy the one of the best games I've seen with them. Dan Hoard said this was the best game he ever called.
I wrote this last November. I figured since it wasn't coaching rumors, no one would mind.
The greatest game in Cincinnati Bearcats football history was the win over Pittsburgh. It capped off an undefeated season, won the Big East, and put Cincinnati in a BCS game. It kept the slim hopes for a national title game shot alive as well. The game was a classic. Therefore, it was repeated on ESPN Classic. Since the game happened before I started the blog, I've never written about it. Until now. I recorded the game on my DVR, and have decided it would be fun to live blog the action. I don't know what fun is, and I don't have anything to do tonight.
Pitt kicks off to UC. Mardy Gilyard gets stopped at the 22. Tony Pike is coming off a 399, 6 TD game against Illinois. This is his second game as the starter, as he played red zone duty against West Virginia. Pittsburgh was leading the nation in sacks, with 42. Someone on the UC line is wearing a red neck collar, which stands out. Jacob Ramsay gets stuck at the line. 3rd and long. Pike gets hit as he wanted to throw by Greg Romeus. Punt to the 30 is taken to the 44.
Dion Lewis' first carry goes for 12 yards. He looked amazing on that run. Lewis again for 5. Lewis up the middle for a couple. Andre Revels made the stick. He was the leader in tackles. Lewis catches a short 3rd down pass to convert. Lewis yet again for 9 more. Dan Giordano stops Lewis for no gain. Lewis stopped short on 3rd, but spins pas a couple of defenders on 4th. Pitt has the ball at the 19. He shook Dom Battle big time. Lewis another 10 yard run. Lewis converts the first with another run. Run inside the 5. Lewis explodes into the end zone. He touched the ball every play. 51 rushing yards that drive. 6:29 on the drive. Pittsburgh 7-0.
Kick is short, Gilyard across the 30 to the 33. Pike hits Ben Guidugli, who was coming off a monster 149 yard, 2 TD game. Pead breaks a huge run deep into Pitt territory to the 18. Just exploded down the right sideline for 40 yards. Armon Binns gets his first catch to the 6. Pike's pass goes off of Pead's hands and out of the end zone. Pike rolls right, throws for Woods, but it's broken up by Jarred Holley. 3rd and goal pass to Woods draws an interference flag. Pead goes right, but can't turn the corner. Ramsay gets the carry, goes left and scores. The UC line is pumped. 2 yard run. 7 plays, 66 yards, 2:10 drive. Tied 7-7.
Rest of the game after the jump.
Here's the kick, taken by Cam Saddler, who won't play Saturday, to the 33. Lewis makes about 3 cuts at the line, darting for 7. Lewis again for 7. Lewis again shaking tackles for 5. He finally comes out of the game. Ray Graham, who won't play tomorrow, gets a couple. 3rd and 3. Pass to Lewis for about 6 and a first. Lewis is stopped on another carry as he slipped. Bill Stull going deep, but Aaron Webster helps break up the pass to Dickerson. 3rd and long. There's Jon Baldwin for the first time right at the sticks. Pitt goes for it, and gets it easily with Lewis. Lewis another carry for 3. That's the end of the first quarter. Lewis start the second with another carry, cutting for 3. Stull going end zone, and it's caught by Baldwin in a spectacular catch. It's ruled incomplete. It gets reviewed and it's a TD. Great pass and catch for the 22 yard score. Pittsburgh 14-7.
Darrin Williams takes the kick to the 23. UC has had the ball a little more than 3 minutes. Pead run for not much. Pead spins off a tackle and gets 2. Pike deep down the right side for Binns to the Pitt 44. 31 yard pass. Quick pass to Mardy for about 7. Pike breaks the pocket, short pass to Mardy who explodes for 18 yards. At the 19, throws down the middle for Woods. Pass broken up, but a helmet to helmet hit is called. Ball at the 9. Play action, pass to the end zone for Binns incomplete. Interference called. That was kind of a gift. Play action bootleg pass is low and incomplete. Pike rolls right, throws back left, but short arms it. That could have been a TD. 3rd down. Pass batted and somehow not picked off. That was a break. 20 yard FG by Jake Rogers is good. Pittsburgh 14-10.
Kick to the sideline brought up the hash marks to the 37. Big return. Play action pass down the middle to Mike Shanahan for 23 yards. That was a nice play. Flea flicker deep to Baldwin is caught for a TD. Baldwin kind of pushed off. Beat double coverage. One of them was Drew Frey. Some things never change. Stull is 6/7 106 yards, 2 TDs. Pittsburgh 21-10.
Kick is short, Gilyard gets to the 28. Pike to throw with a lot of pressure and the timing route is incomplete. Short pass to Ben G for 2. Pike rolls right, throws and is picked off by Dom DeCicco. Apparently the pass was for "Ga-looey." Pike was 6-15, 79 yards. Could have been a flag. Pitt at the 49. Lewis up the middle for 5. Lewis gets 2. The game goes on commercial for some reason. Lewis left for the first down, fumbles, but out of bounds. Lewis left again down to the 23 yard line. 15 yards. Lewis stuck for a loss by Ricardo Mathews. Pass in the flat to Lewis, breaks a tackle and dives down to the 17. Lewis on 3rd gets 2. Dan Hutchins is good from 33. Pittsburgh 24-10.
Kick coming to Gilyard, bobbled and he is stopped at the 19. Screen to Pead is snuffed out for a loss of 4. Max Gruder was all over it. He had an awesome name. He still has it, unless he's dead. RIP Max Gruder. Draw to Pead gets 9. Pike pump fakes, scrambling to the 30 for a first down. Short pass to Gilyard, maybe a middle screen, incomplete. Pike play fakes, rolls right throws deep to Binns, broken up. Pike breaks pressure, pass to Binns broken up. It was short of the first down anyway. Punt. Back to back good plays by Chappel. Punt blocked. Rogers tackled at the 5. Dude bullrushed one of the blockers. I forgot that happened. Lewis runs for 1. Lewis gets nothing on 2nd. Play fake, pump fake, Stull has the edge and score. I remember being incredibly demoralized. Pittsburgh 31-10.
Here comes the game changing moment. Kick deep to the 1. Gilyard right up the hash, cuts back left and he's gone. 99 yard kick return by Mardy Gilyard. Got a block in the back, maybe, that sprung him. Pittsburgh 31-17.
Kick to the sideline is dropped out of bounds at the 8. Lewis fumbles, and the ball went right through Walter Stewart's legs. Webster popped it loose. Lewis gets 5. He's over 110 yards. Lewis stuffed on 3rd down. 29th carry of the game. 51 seconds left. Punt is out at midfield. Personal foul on Pittsburgh moves the ball to the 35. Pike to pass, rolls left, picked off. Pike pushes the guy running, and he stumbles out of bounds around the UC 45. Pike telegraphed that throw big time. Not Toe Knee's best half. Stull throws deep and it's picked off by Aaron Webster, who returns the ball across midfield. That was a big play. Pike pressured, rolls right, throws deep and Gilyard was held to no call. Short pass to Woods for 8. Nearly a late hit. 8 seconds left, ball at the 37. Pike overthrows a sideline route. 55 yard FG attempt is way off. Halftime. Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 17.
Pitt had the ball for 20 minutes, and got 232 yards, including 114 on the ground. UC had 147 yards, 84 passing. Pitt receives. Saddler to the 25 on another sideline kick. Lewis gets the ball to start, getting about 4. Play action pass incomplete. 3rd down dump off to Lewis gets nothing. 3 and out. JK Schaffer on the tackle. Punt to Gilyard gets a 7 yard return to the 33. Pike to throw, incomplete for Mardy. Pike pressured and he goes down. 3rd down snap dropped by Pike. All he can do is fall on it. Punt is short, rolling dead at the Pitt 42.
Ray Graham gets the carry to start the drive, running for 7, but a hold wipes it out. Graham goes left and explodes for 13. Shady McCoy to Lewis to Graham, damn Pitt has killed it recruiting wise. 2nd down play loses 2. Stull throws for Dickerson, but the pass is low. Punt time. Short punt, but a flag is thrown on Bones Barnett, who gets called Bennett. Pead runs for 8 on first down. Collaros was warming up, as things got heated on the UC sideline. Deep pass to Binns is incomplete. Quick rollout pass on 3rd gets the first. Woods made the catch. Pike being pressured, stumbles and falls. Another sack. Pike throws deep to Gilyard, who catches it at the 40, cuts past the safety and he's gone. Pike shoulder faked the pass, which allowed Gilyard to get past the corners, the safety had no angle. 68 yard pass. That was cool. 8:12 to go in the 3rd quarter. Pittsburgh 31-24.
We fast forward to the 3:42 mark. Pead runs for 7. Screen to Mardy gets nothing. To be clear, ESPN fast forwarded, I did not. Could have cut the pregame stuff or some of the replays to show the whole game. You can do that ESPN. There was a flag that wiped out the play. Pass to Binns gets 16. Binns pushed Chappel away to get open. Pike throws deep and it's picked off by Holley. That was an arm punt says the announcer. Horrible throw. Short pass by Pitt, but there is a hold on UC that gives Pitt 10 yards. Lewis gets a carry for 3. Stull throws to the tight end for 5. Shotgun, pass to Baldwin to the 47. It's been a while since Baldwin caught a pass. End 3rd quarter. Stull goes deep and it's picked off by Dominique Battle. It's like that pass was to Battle. Threw that between 2 receivers.
UC takes over at the 7. Play action pass to Binns, dropped. Another fake deep ball to Gilyard is broken up. That could have been 6, Mardy was open. Could have been a flag. Pike rolls right, no one open and throws it away. Line drive punt taken to the UC 32. Lewis left for 3. Lewis up the middle for 5. Lewis up the middle for a first down and more to the 15. 37 carries now for Lewis. Lewis up the middle again, breaking tackles and scores. That was a man's run. 15 yarder. Pittsburgh 38-24.
Short kick caught on the run at the 28 by Mardy, and he flies up the field to the Pitt 23. Game changer. 317 yards for Gilyard. Pike throws deep and it's nearly picked. Pike tosses to Pead, who runs to the 17. Pass to Gilyard inside the 10. Mardy bobbled that one, but all was good. Pike rolls right, throws for Woods, who dives to the pylon for the score. That was an absolutely huge kick return. That's the forgotten return. Jake Rogers hits the upright with the extra point. Looked like pre-zombie Zach had trouble getting the hold down. Pittsburgh 38-30.
Pitt gets the return to the 23. Lewis gets to the 25 on first down. Stull is sacked on a play action by Derek Wolfe. Draw to Lewis gets back to the 25. Punt time. The kick goes out at the 32. Pitt calls timeout before 1st down. Stat comparison. Pitt has 325 yards, UC 258. The Panthers had the ball for 34:27. 178 Pitt rushing yards, 197 for UC. Give to Pead for 8. Pike throws to Woods to the Pitt 46. Then Woods is shoved out of bounds for a personal foul. Shovel pass to Guidugli for 6. Pass to Woods gets the first to the 17. Pike throws deep to Binns, who makes the catch at the 1. He can't quite get into the end zone. Collaros is in. He fakes to Pead, and can't get in. Collaros and Pead run into each other in the backfield, but Pitt was lined up offsides. Collaros gives to Pead, who runs around the left end easily for the score. Pike back in to go for 2. Pike throws to the back of the end zone to Gilyard for the conversion. Tied 38-38.
5:46 as UC kicks off. Cam Saddler nearly breaks the return, but is tripped up at the 33. Lewis is stuffed on first down for a 3 yard loss. Stull to pass, hits Baldwin, makes a man miss and gets the first down. Lewis for 5, and then for 8. That gets 15 more when Walter Stewart gets a personal foul for hands to the face. Lewis is tackled by the facemask for a 2 yard loss. The flag was picked up for some unknown reason. Under 3 left. Lewis gets 3. Timeout UC. 3rd and 9. Stull throws to a wide open Baldwin between 4 Bearcats in a zone. That was brutal. Lewis breaks left to the 5, where he's pushed out. 2 minutes left. Lewis up the middle untouched for the go ahead score with 1:36 left. You have to wonder if UC let them score on purpose. It was 2nd down, so probably not. Extra point try, and the holder drops the snap. He can't run for the 2. Pitt fans are face palming. Pittsburgh 44-38.
Here's the kick to the 11, Gilyard cuts up past the 35, but slips when it looked like he could have taken it. Pike steps up and hits Gilyard for a modest gain. 1:10 to go. Pike throws across the middle to DJ to the Pitt 45. Pike pumps, runs throws to Gilyard, who was running back to the ball at the 28. Smart play by Mardy. 39 seconds left. Timeout Cincinnati. Ball at the 28. Pretty sure we all know what happens next. Matt Millen mentions that Pike likes Binns against Chappel. That's a great call. Pike throws to the end zone, and it's caught by Armon Binns for a touchdown. Binns toasted Chappel. Pike's throw was on the fucking money. That's the greatest play in Cincinnati history. Rogers drills the point. For the first time all day, Cincinnati takes the lead. Amazing. Cincinnati 45-44.
Ray Graham wanted to make a big play, so he returned the kick instead of taking a knee, only getting to the 19. Stull's pass is deflected incomplete. Stull's pass was nearly picked by Drew Frey. Stull goes deep for Baldwin, but the ball is overthrown. 4th and 10. Stull is wrapped up by nearly the entire UC defensive line and sacked. 3 seconds left. Someone sprayed a water bottle on Brian Kelly's head. Pike takes a knee and Cincinnati wins. Cincinnati 45 Pittsburgh 44.
One of the best games I've ever seen. Tony Pike was awful in the first half, then amazing in the second half. Mardy Gilyard was the mother fucking man. The defense made enough plays to win. They made the big plays. I almost don't want to delete this game off my DVR, but I accidentally just did. I haven't watched that game in full since it happened. I've watched the highlights of course. Gilyard was by far the best player on the field, and that's a field with a couple of pros on it. I still get goose bumps watching the Binns catch. Incredible. In fact, that's all that can be said about this game. Incredible.