WVU vs. Cincinnati Game Recap - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU vs. Cincinnati Game Recap

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Nick Arthur, CINCINNATI -

Geno Smith threw for 376 yards and one touchdown as West Virginia upset No. 23 Cincinnati 24-21 Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Mountaineers blocked a Cincinnati field goal attempt as time expired to improve to 7-3 overall, and 3-2 in Big East Conference play.

"It was a great team win, we faced some adversity all throughout the game, but I think we turned the corner today," West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith said. "Everyone was playing for one another and we were out there trying to make plays for our teammates."

Cincinnati struck first following a punt from West Virginia on its first possession. Running back Isaiah Pead capped off a short 3-play drive with a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Bearcats a 7-0 advantage.

Pead broke multiple West Virginia attempted tackles on his way to the end zone.

West Virginia found some rhythm on its second drive. The Mountaineers began to establish a run game, and then quarterback Geno Smith hit a streaking Stedman Bailey for a 59-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at seven apiece.

The West Virginia team clearly played more inspired this week.

"It's not as much about what we did or didn't do offensively," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "It's about how much energy we played with."

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin had 72 receiving yards on the Mountaineers' first drive in the second quarter. Placekicker Tyler Bitancurt connected on a 28-yard field goal, and West Virginia led 10-7 with 9:35 left until halftime.

Austin's ability to make plays was apparent all game.

"When you get it to a guy like Tavon (Austin) underneath, he can make guys miss and get a first down," Smith said. "There is something special about that guy."

West Virginia's defense continued to make plays in the second quarter. Defensive end Bruce Irvin forced a fumble by Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros, and West Virginia defensive tackle Julian Miller recovered it in the end zone for a Mountaineer touchdown.  The West Virginia lead was extended to 17-7.

Collaros was injured on the play and was replaced by backup quarterback Munchie Legaux. Legaux was intercepted by West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy on his first pass attempt.

Bruce Irvin was able to get pressure on both Collaros and Legaux – particularly on third down.

The Mountaineers led 17-7 at halftime.

West Virginia attempted to extend its lead midway through the third quarter. But, for the second-consecutive week, Tyler Bitancurt had a field goal attempt blocked.

But, this one wasn't returned for a touchdown.

The Bearcats took over at their own 5-yard line, and missed a field goal on the ensuing possession.

Munchie Legaux began to get more comfortable in the pocket in the second half.

He found Isaiah Pead for a 45-yard pass that gave the Bearcats first and goal. On the next play, Legaux rushed for a 7-yard touchdown and the Mountaineers only led 17-14 with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead added to his big day with a 10-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bearcats a 21-17 advantage with 13:20 remaining in the game.

The touchdown drive came immediately after a fumble by West Virginia freshman running back Dustin Garrison.

Geno Smith led a 12-play, 74-yard drive on the next West Virginia possession. Shawne Alston rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, and the Mountaineers retook the lead, 24-21, with less than nine minutes left to play.

The touchdown ended up being the game-winning score.

"I'm honored that my coaches and my teammates have enough trust in me to give me the ball," Alston said. "I just try to do my best and respond when they put me in those situations. The offensive line did a great job of blocking."

The Bearcats drove deep into West Virginia territory late in the fourth quarter. They lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt with three seconds remaining, but the kick was blocked as time expired.

Isaiah Pead had a big day on the ground for Cincinnati. Pead rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Tavon Austin led the Mountaineers in receiving, while recording 9 receptions for 125 yards. 

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