October 21, 2007

Four-point spread: Pitt-Cincinnati

Play(s) of the game

The two fumbles

This week, the Play of the Game honor gets split, because two plays were equally crucial in Pitt's 24-17 win over Cincinnati. The Panthers hadn't forced and recovered a fumble on defense all season, but when it really mattered against the Bearcats, the turnovers finally came.

The first fumble came on Cincinnati's first drive of the fourth quarter. With the Bearcats leading 17-13 and facing a first down at their own 17 yard line, Ben Mauk threw to Dominick Goodman five yards downfield. But Pitt defensive lineman Tommie Duhart knocked the ball out on the tackle and safety Eric Thatcher recovered the ball at the Cincinnati 26.The ensuing possession led to a Pitt field goal and the Panthers trailed by one point, 17-16.

The co-winner of the Play of the Game honors came on Cincinnati's next drive. The Bearcats were at their own 38 when Mauk went to running back Butler Benton. Benton took off downfield and into Pitt territory when linebacker Shane Murray popped the ball out in a scrum and Kennard Cox scooped it up. The turnover led to the game-winning touchdown drive for Pitt.

Drive of the game

The go-ahead score

Pitt trailed Cincinnati all day on Saturday, but two fourth-quarter fumbles by the Bearcats set up the Panthers with a one-point deficit (17-16) and some serious momentum. After recovering the second fumble, Pitt had the ball on their own 39 with 10:05 left in the game. After a penalty on first down that led to a first-and-15 from the 34, Pat Bostick threw to LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 10-yard gain. On second-and-five, Stephens-Howling took a handoff 7 yards for a first down at the Cincinnati 49. Bostick threw incomplete on first down and T.J. Porter lost a yard on second down, setting up a third-and-11 from the 50. This time, Porter came up big, catching a pass from Bostick and gaining 15 yards on the play for a huge first down at the Cincinnati 35.

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