Saturday, November 15, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: A 'Wicked' weekend

Cincinnati wins, sets up showdown with Pittsburgh

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[November 15, 2008]  LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) --  Tony Pike threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and No. 22 Cincinnati remained in the hunt for the Big East title with a 28-20 win over reeling Louisville on Friday night.

HardwareThe victory gives the Bearcats (8-2, 4-1) a half-game lead over idle West Virginia and No. 21 Pittsburgh in the conference title race. Cincinnati beat the Mountaineers last week and host the Panthers on Nov. 22.

Dominick Goodman caught nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown for Cincinnati and John Goebel ran for 77 yards and a score as the Bearcats won the Keg of Nails for the first time since 2002.

Pike, who took over the starting job earlier this year when senior Dustin Grutza went down with a broken leg, completed 19-of-33 yards in soggy conditions before getting knocked out in the fourth quarter

Enter Grutza, who hadn't played since breaking his right leg during a 52-26 loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 6.

If Grutza was rusty, he didn't show it.

Walking onto the field in a steady rain, Grutza quickly led the Bearcats on a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that gave the Bearcats a 28-20 lead.

The key play was a 24-yard pass to Goodman on 3rd-and-5 that moved the ball to the Louisville 43. Goebel did the rest, zipping 37 yards up the left side on the next play before going in from the 6 for the score.

It was more than enough to hold off the mistake-prone Cardinals (5-5, 1-4), who have lost three straight for the first time since 1997.

Hunter Cantwell threw for 204 yards and a touchdown but also was stuffed on a fourth-down sneak at the Louisville 35 with less than 4 minutes to go. The Bearcats couldn't extend the lead as Jake Rogers missed his third field goal of the game.

No matter, as the Bearcats forced Cantwell into four straight incompletions to beat their rivals for just the second time in 11 tries.

Louisville, hoping to erase a nightmarish loss to Pittsburgh last week, took a 17-14 lead into the half and had a perfect opportunity to take command after linebacker Jon Dempsey recovered a fumble at the Cincinnati 9.

But three plays netted just 3 yards and Louisville settled for a field goal to go up 20-14.

It wasn't nearly enough.

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Goodman gave the Bearcats a 21-20 lead with 6:38 to play in the third quarter on a beautiful 23-yard touchdown grab, laying out parallel to the ground and holding onto the ball as he slid across the wet turf in the end zone.

The score was the 21st receiving touchdown of Goodman's career, tying the school record held by Jim O'Brien.

Louisville freshman running back Victor Anderson ran for 60 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game in the third quarter after sustaining a helmet-to-helmet hit from Cincinnati defensive lineman Adam Hoppel.

The Cardinals had their chances, but continually self-destructed behind penalties and questionable playcalling. Louisville was flagged six times for 46 yards, most of them wiping out solid gains or ruining scoring opportunities.

Twice in the second half Louisville had the ball in Cincinnati territory only to hurt itself with penalties. The most damaging came after the Cardinals had moved to the Cincinnati 15 with 10 minutes to play. A holding call on first down pushed them back 10 yards. Two runs and a delay of game ended up pushing them back another 3 yards and Ryan Payne's 45-yard field-goal attempt to take the lead was woefully short.

Grutza and Cincinnati's defense took over from there, allowing the Bearcats to keep their hopes of a conference title and the school's first Bowl Championship Series berth alive.

[Associated Press; By WILL GRAVES]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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