Bearcats claim Big East title in thrilling fashion as Panthers fall 45-44

Cincinnati 45 – Pittsburgh 44
Tony Pike’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Armon Binns with 33 seconds remaining finished No. 5 Cincinnati’s thrilling comeback from a 21-point deficit, and the Bearcats defeated No. 15 Pittsburgh 45-44 Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field to secure a BCS berth and their second consecutive Big East title.
Panthers had leads of leads of 31-10, 38-24 and 44-38 only to have the Bearcats rally from each score.
Mardy Gilyard’s 99 yard kick return for a touchdown near the end of the first half cut into Pittsburgh’s 31-10 lead as Gilyards return touchdown was a turning point in the game.
The Bearcats were able to gain some momentum going into the locker room and went onto score 28 second half points.
What Pitt didn’t want to do was get into a shootout with star quarterback Tony Pike. That’s exactly what happened in the second half.
Pike threw for three second half touchdowns including the game winning score with 33 seconds left.
Pitt got a dominating performance from freshman running back Dion Lewis who rushed for 3 TD’s and 194 yards. It was a Dorsett type of performance for Lewis who carried the ball 47 times.
Quarterback Bill Stull threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns but failed to deliver any big plays in the second half.
Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin led the Panthers with 6 receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Cincinnati turned the ball over three times and rushed for just 69 yards. The difference in the game is that Cincinnati had the star quarterback on their side.
Pike was able to exploit a suspect Panthers secondary at every opportunity in the 4th quarter as the Panthers had no answers for the Bearcats passing attack.
KR/WR Marty Gilyard had 374 all-purpose yards and two TDs for the Bearcats
The Bearcats are projected to play in the Sugar Bowl barring a Texas loss, which could put them under consideration for the BCS National Title Game.

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