Botched extra point costs PITT in loss to Cincinnati in thrilling Big East finale

They scored 44 points, blocked a punt and saw their freshman running back rack up 194 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries. But in the end, a botched extra point cost Pittsburgh an opportunity to claim a share of the Big East championship and the shot to play in a BCS bowl.

No. 5 Cincinnati rallied to beat No. 15 PITT 45-44 on Saturday in a wild Big East finale, thanks in large part to quarterback Tony Pike’s big second half. His 29-yard touchdown pass to Armon Binns with 33 seconds remaining helped cap the Bearcats’ wild comeback.

But before Pike found Binns for the game-winning score, a botched hold on an extra point attempt gave Cincinnati the opportunity to win the game. After Dion Lewis (what an amazing day he had: 47 carries, 194 yards, 3 TDs) scored on a 5-yard run to give PIT a 44-38 lead with less than two minutes remaining, the Panthers blew the extra point and opened the door for Cincinnati’s comeback.

Of course, it’s important to remember that one play doesn’t determine the outcome of a game. At one point, PITT had a 21-point lead and couldn’t hold onto it. For as good as the Panthers’ defense has played this season, they couldn’t limit the big plays and it cost them in the end. And even though everyone will look at the failed extra point as the difference, PITT’s defense still could have stopped Cincinnati on the final drive and hung on for the win.

What an incredible victory for the Bearcats. They looked doomed from the start, but they never gave up and they kept fighting. Once again, their offense was outstanding and it’s understandable why Notre Dame is heavily considering Brian Kelly as their next head coach.

Now the Bearcats have to root for Nebraska to beat Texas in the Big 12 Championship tonight. They would still have trouble leaping over TCU in the standings even if the Longhorns do lose, but at least Kelly’s team has put themselves in position with this victory.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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