Cincinnati 30, Syracuse 13
November 26th, 2011
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
The Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Syracuse Orangemen on Saturday afternoon by a final score of 30-13. The win, which keeps the Bearcats BCS hopes afloat, comes on the heels of last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights that all but put an end to the Bearcats’ championship dreams.
Just a week later, a Rutgers loss and a Cincinnati wins has fans buzzing once again. They’ll still need some help to reach the BCS, but their win on Saturday keeps things interesting for at least another week.
The Bearcat offense got off to a slow start against Syracuse, failing to find their way onto the scoreboard in the first quarter. Isaiah Pead had it going early, but Munchie Legeaux and the rest of the offense couldn’t find ways to extend drives.
The second quarter began with much of the same, and things didn’t appear likely to improve until the Bearcats’ final drive of the second quarter. The drive, which featured a good mix of run and pass, culminated on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Munchie Legeaux to Travis Kelce which gave the Bearcats their first lead of the game at 10-6.
As the second half got underway, the Bearcats seemed to finally find some sort of rhythm on offense with Munchie Legeaux under center. Legeaux performed well, but it was the play of senior tailback Isaiah Pead that got the offense rolling.
On the Bearcats opening drive of the second half, Pead was excellent. His impressive 24-yard scamper to end the drive gave the Bearcats a 17-6 lead and set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Syracuse was able to cut the lead to as low as 10 heading into the fourth quarter, but another Isaiah Pead touchdown, this one 69 yards through the air, put the game on ice.
In all, Isaiah Pead finished with 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 9 passes for 112 yards and another score. His quarterback, Munchie Legeaux, performed admirably in the win. The sophomore threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns on13-of-22 passing, while avoiding any key mistakes through the air.
With the win, the Bearcats move into a tie for the Big East lead. They no longer control their own destiny, but a win next week against Connecticut paired with a West Virginia loss to South Florida would put the Bearcats back in Miami, Florida on January 4th.
0. The number of times the Bearcats turned the ball over against Syracuse on Saturday. Munchie Legeaux performed as well as anyone could have hoped following the team’s loss to Rutgers last week. The true freshman didn’t have gaudy numbers, but he avoided the dreaded interception and allowed Isaiah Pead to carry the team to victory.
244. The number of all-purpose yard accounted for by senior tailback Isaiah Pead. Pead rushed for 80 yards and a score on Saturday, and caught 9 passes for 112 more yards and another score. But he also assumed punt return duties for the Bearcats and performed well. He retuned just two punts, but averaged 27 yards per return on the day.
The turning point in Saturday’s game came when the Bearcats mounted a touchdown drive to end the first half with the lead. The drive seemed to give the Bearcats’ offense the confidence they needed coming out of the locker room. On the Bearcats’ next possession, the first of the second half, they found the endzone once again and Syracuse never recovered.
The Bearcats escaped Saturday afternoon’s game without what appeared to be any significant injuries.
The Bearcats got the win they needed to keep their season alive. It wasn’t always pretty, but they got the win and they did so in convincing fashion with a big second half from the offense.
Isaiah Pead, down to just two regular season games left in his Cincinnati career heading into Saturday’s game, did everything in his power to make sure the final regular season game of his career would mean something to the team. His 244 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns were exactly what the Bearcats needed to get over the hump and end their losing streak at two.
The Bearcats nearly regained the top spot in the Big East this week, but fell just shy of that goal when West Virginia pulled off a stunning comeback against Pittsburgh on Friday night to come away with a one-point win. Still, Rutgers fell to Connecticut on Saturday afternoon, reducing the number of teams the Bearcats need to lose to just one.
West Virginia, the one team standing in between the Bearcats and a BCS berth, will take on the South Florida Bulls this week. A West Virginia loss would turn Saturday’s senior day showdown against Connecticut into the game of the year, as the Bearcats would clinch a spot in the BCS with a win.