CINCINNATI -- Isaiah Pead made two quick cutbacks and ran 50 yard for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Saturday, rallying Cincinnati to a 25-16 victory over Louisville in the Big East opener for both teams.
Cincinnati (5-1) got its first victory in three games at the stadium of the NFL's Bengals. The Bearcats overcame four fumbles, which they all recovered, and a costly interception thrown by Zach Collaros. Mike Evans returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown to give Cincinnati a 16-7 lead with 6 seconds left in the half.
Collaros ran 1 yard for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal, and Pead scored for the sixth straight game, sending Louisville (2-4) to its third straight loss. Pead had 151 yards on 20 carries against the Big East's top defense.
Louisville's offense struggled again, managing only three field goals despite trying two quarterbacks.
The game drew 40,971 fans -- 171 fewer than the Bengals had for their last home game.
Louisville came in with the Big East's top defense, allowing no more than 24 points in any game. The problem: Louisville hadn't scored more than 24 in any game, either.
The Cardinals stalled in the last two games after quarterback Will Stein went down with a shoulder injury. Freshman Teddy Bridgewater took over and led them to only 20 points in two losses. Plus, running back Victor Anderson missed a second straight game Saturday with a sprained ankle.
That wasn't all. Chris Philpott had made only 2 of 5 field goal attempts this season, missing two during a 14-7 loss to North Carolina a week earlier.
Philpott made field goals of 42, 51 and 18 yards on a blustery afternoon, putting the Cardinals up 9-7 late in the half. The last field goal was set up by Bridgewater's perfect throw down the sideline to Eli Rogers for a 58-yard gain.
The Cardinals then got their first defensive touchdown of the season when the interception return made it 16-7 at halftime. Collaros shook it off and led the Bearcats back.
He made a gamble pay off in the third quarter. The Bearcats went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Collaros took it in off a draw play, cutting the lead to 16-14.
Louisville self-destructed, piling up two false starts, an illegal formation and a holding penalty on one series that set up a third-and-38 and led to a punt. Two plays later, Pead was off on his decisive 50-yard touchdown run. Collaros completed a pass for the 2-point conversion.
Bridgewater finished 17 of 28 for 195 yards with an interception and four sacks. His fourth-and-3 pass at midfield fell incomplete with 3:05 left, ending Louisville's last chance to catch up. Pead had runs of 21 and 12 yards, setting up the clinching field goal with 1:21 to go.