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Kiner runs for 153 yards as Cincinnati holds off Pitt 27-21 in renewal of River City Rivalry

APTOPIX Cincinnati Pittsburgh Football
Posted at 11:04 PM, Sep 09, 2023

PITTSBURGH — Corey Kiner ran for 153 yards and a touchdown and Cincinnati fended off a late rally to edge Pittsburgh 27-21 on Saturday night.

Emory Jones passed for a pair of scores for the Bearcats (2-0), who flirted with letting a 20-point second-half lead get away before turning away the Panthers (1-1) in the renewal of the River City Rivalry.

Phil Jurkovec threw for three touchdowns for Pitt, including a pair in the fourth quarter to get the Panthers within six. Jurkovec, however, was sacked on fourth down with Pitt in Cincinnati territory with just over 4 minutes remaining. The Bearcats then ran out the clock in the return of a series that was briefly among the most entertaining in the Big East during the final years of the now-defunct conference.

The Bearcats dominated the Panthers early, scoring on each of its first two possessions and using a 17-play drive to set up a field goal that helped them build a 20-7 halftime lead.

Jurkovec fumbled on Pitt's first possession of the second half and Jones responded by finding a diving Braden Smith for a 21-yard score that seemed to have the Bearcats firmly in control.

Pitt responded behind the erratic Jurkovec, who completed just 10 of 32 passes for 179 yards but had some success late lobbing the ball up to see what might happen. He connected with Konata Mumpfield for a 9-yard touchdown and Gavin Bartholomew for a 16-yard score that gave the Panthers life.

Yet he couldn't take advantage of an interception by Marquise Williams that gave the Panthers the ball inside Cincinnati territory with 5:44 to go. Pitt reached the Bearcats 29 before back-to-back incompletions followed by the Bearcats' fourth sack ended any hopes of a stunning comeback.

THE TAKEAWAY

Cincinnati: The Bearcats will have their work cut out for them during their first season in the Big 12, but the early returns of the Scott Satterfield Era suggest the drop-off following Luke Fickell's departure for Wisconsin might not be as significant as initially feared.

Pitt: Jurkovec's homecoming also reunited him with offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, who held the same position at Boston College during Jurkovec's best season with the Eagles. Yet whatever comfort they found in Chestnut Hills has yet to materialize with the Panthers. When Jurkovec had time he appeared unsure of himself and uncertain where to go with the ball.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Returns home next Saturday to face Miami (Ohio). The Bearcats have won each of the last 16 meetings with the RedHawks.

Pitt: Travels an hour south to Morgantown, W.V. next Saturday to face West Virginia in a renewal of the “Backyard Brawl.” The Panthers edged the Mountaineers 38-31 last season.