It took overtime for the Cincinnati Bearcats (7-2, 3-1) to take down the West Virginia Mountaineers (6-3, 3-1), 26-23. It was an overtime that should have never happened. UC was up 20-7 throughout the entire second half only to allow WVU to fight their way back into the game and force overtime.
UC won the toss for overtime and went on defense first. The Bearcat defense stepped up and kept the Mountaineers out of the endzone, forcing them to kick a field goal. On the Bearcats possession, Tony Pike would hit Dominick Goodman for a 10-yard gain and a roughing the passer penalty later, the Bearcats were sitting at the 7 1/2 yard line.
A 5-yard run by Jacob Ramsey would set up the game winning score. The Bearcats would line up in the Power-I formation. Pike faked the handoff and flipped the ball to an open Kazeem Ali for the game winning touchdown.
Just when it looked like the Bearcats were going to pull one of the biggest victories in the history of the program, a string of unexpected events took place. With about four minutes left and with the Mountaineers driving inside the 10-yard line, Pat White threw an interception.
UC was unable to move the ball and rather than having punter Kevin Huber punt from his own endzone, he ran out of the endzone, giving WVU two points, making the score 20-9. There was 1:11 left in the game at that point.
The WVU offense needed just seven plays to score on a 3-yard pass from White to Dorrell Jalloh with 19 seconds left in the game. Then the unthinkable happened. As expected, WVU kicked an onside kick that looked like UC would recover until two players jumped for the ball at the same time and bumped into each other; neither of them caught the ball. Instead it was recovered by Mortty Ivy of WVU. That set up a 52-yard field goal from Pat McAfee as time ran out.
The Bearcat defense played in the prevent most of the fourth quarter. It was doing that and not pressuing White that ended up almost costing them the game. The offense didn't score a single point in the second half, but the defense, until the last 1:11, played well enough to keep the powerful Mountaineer offense at bay.
White and runningback Noel Divine were held in check all night, only managing 99 yards combined, 90 yards below their average. That's exactly what UC needed to do in order to come away with a victory.
While the game should have never made it to overtime, a win is a win. This win in particular is quite possibly the biggest in the history of UC football. Why? Because this win puts the Bearcats in the driver's seat in the BIG EAST and the chance to play in a BCS bowl game.
Pike is showing no ill effects of his broken non-throwing arm, so those worries can now be put to rest. He finished the game 16-for-30 for 178 yards. Because of the strong play from the defense throughout most of the game, Pike wasn't called on to do too much. Dustin Grutza still isn't fully healed from the broken leg he suffered in the second game of the season against Oklahoma. Fortunately for the Bearcats, Pike has come back strong in his last two starts to show that he can lead this team.
This was the second win in a row over a Top 25 for the Bearcats after having defeated South Florida last week 24-10. With that, the Bearcats are now in the top 25, ranked No. 22. The next two games are crucial for UC. They travel to Louisville this coming Friday night followed by what could be the biggest home game in school history against Pittsburgh the following week. Wins in both of these games could very well mean a BIG EAST title along with a BCS bowl berth.