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December 4, 2010

Notes from Pitt's win over Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - Pitt finished the 2010 regular season by beating Cincinnati 28-10 on Saturday. Here's a collection of news, notes, and notables from the game.

- Sophomore running back Dion Lewis was the star of the show on Saturday, rushing 42 times for a career-high 261 yards and 4 touchdowns. Lewis' previous career high was 194 rushing yards, and he set that mark against Cincinnati at Heinz Field in 2009.

- The game marked Lewis' 13th career 100-yard rushing game and his third of the season (130 vs. Rutgers, 105 vs. South Florida). His rushing total on Saturday included a 76-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter; that run was the second-longest of his career, behind an 85-yard run at Buffalo last season.

- With 261 yards on Saturday, Lewis now has 2,755 rushing yards in his two-year career at Pitt. That's the second-highest total of any Pitt running back in his freshman and sophomore campaigns (behind LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 2,816 yards in 2007-08). Lewis is now seventh on the all-time Pitt rushing list.

- Lewis' performance was the second time this season a Pitt running back has topped the 200-yard mark in a game. Sophomore Ray Graham rushed for 277 yards against Florida International earlier this season. The last time Pitt had a pair of 200-yard rushing performances in the same season was 2000, when Kevan Barlow rushed for 209 against Boston College and 272 against West Virginia.

- Graham played just one snap against Cincinnati due to a back injury. He carried the ball on that play and gained seven yards.

- Junior cornerback Antwuan Reed suffered a concussion in the first quarter and did not play the rest of the game. He was replaced by true freshman K'Waun Williams, who recorded pass breakup and a solo tackle in his first significant minutes as part of the base defense.

- Redshirt junior defensive tackle Myles Caragein left the game after spraining his left knee in the second quarter. He recorded three solo tackles and a forced fumble before the injury. True freshman Aaron Donald stepped in for Caragein.

- Max Gruder got off to a hot start against Cincinnati, with a fumble recovery and an interception in the first quarter. Pitt scored touchdowns after each of Gruder's turnovers. The redshirt junior linebacker added three tackles to his final stat line.

The interception was the first of Gruder's career; the fumble recovery was his second of the season.

- Senior safety Dom DeCicco put a strong finishing point his final regular-season game at Pitt, recording two interceptions in the fourth quarter, including the pick that ended Cincinnati's final drive. Saturday was DeCicco's first two-interception game, and he has 12 picks for his career, five of which came this season.

DeCicco also made four tackles, all solo.

- Pitt's defense had a rather unique stat distribution: the Panthers' three leading tacklers were all defensive linemen. Chas Alecxih had a team-high eight tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass breakup, Jabaal Sheard had seven tackles (six solo), two tackles for loss, and one pass breakup, and Brandon Lindsey had six tackles and two quarterback hurries.

- Cincinnati entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Big East in scoring offense (28.6 points per game), passing offense (274.5 yards per game), and total offense (431.2 yards per game). But Pitt's defense held the Bearcats to 109 yards passing, 265 yards of total offense, and 10 points. It was the third time this season Cincinnati has been held to 10 points or fewer in a game.

- With the win, Pitt clinched a share of the 2010 Big East championship at 5-2 in the conference; however, West Virginia's 35-14 win over Rutgers Saturday guaranteed that the Panthers will not be the Big East's automatic BCS qualifier.

- At 7-5 overall and 5-2 in the Big East, Pitt most likely will be invited to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on January 8th, 2011, to face an opponent from the SEC.

- The day took an interesting turn when Cincinnati's Bearcat mascot was removed from the game. The mascot apparently joined Cincinnati fans in throwing snowballs onto the field following Lewis' second touchdown run. The mascot reportedly got into a confrontation with security guards and was cited for disorderly conduct.







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