for this game

Pike tosses three TDs as Cincinnati tops Pitt

Nov 23, 2008 - 5:29 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Tony Pike has pulled Cincinnati to within one win of its first Big East Conference title.

Pike passed for 309 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to lead the 20th-ranked Bearcats to their fourth consecutive victory, a 28-21 triumph over No. 19 Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 Big East) will win the conference with a victory next week against lowly Syracuse.

"I am proud of our kids, and they found a way to win another big game and it is a team we have never beaten," Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said. "These are three teams in a row we had never beaten. Mentally, it has taken a toll on them."

Pike, who also had 29 rushing yards, completed 26-of-32 passes with scoring plays of 20, 4 and 39 yards.

"Coming into the game, we knew they were going to pressure us," Pike said. "I think we were able to burn them earlier. They went into a more of a zone defense, and we were able to execute.

"It definitely felt smooth out there tonight. Once again, coming into the game we had a game plan for anything that they had. We knew they were coming off a bye week so they would have plans."

LeSean McCoy rushed for 82 yards and a pair of scores and made five catches for 24 yards for the Panthers (7-3, 3-2), who managed just 35 rushing yards.

"Just keep working on it," Pitt Coach Dave Wannstedt said about the stalled running game. "I thought we were sacked for some big sacks tonight and that takes rushing yards off."

After McCoy opened the scoring with a 6-yard TD run in the first quarter, Pike's 20-yard strike to Marcus Barnett evened the contest 51 seconds into the second. The junior then found Dominick Goodman for a 7-yard score with 3:33 remaining before the break.

Early in the third quarter, Pike threw a 39-yard TD pass to Marshwan Gilyard to extend Cincinnati's advantage to 21-7.

Gilyard hauled in eight receptions for 110 yards, while Goodman added seven catches for 101 yards.

Jacob Ramsey had a 2-yard rushing score early in the fourth quarter to give the Bearcats a 28-7 cushion.

"We could not make a play on that quarterback," Wannstedt said. "He was incredible."

The game ended on wild play with Pitt lateraling the ball all over the field before a Bearcat finally fell on the ball.

"I just didn't want to see the band on the field," Kelly said jokingly. "That was the last thing I was thinking. It was one of those things that they have some dangerous players out there, but we have some good athletes too. I thought we could corral them."

Kelly knows the final step to a BCS big became tougher with Syracuse's win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

"Syracuse got our attention with a win over Notre Dame. We know they are going to be a tough opponent," Kelly said. "They will play loose and they just got a big win over Notre Dame.

"This makes the Big East 2-0 against Notre Dame. They are going to be a very tough team to beat because of this."