By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The University of Cincinnati defenders never let the turnovers frustrate them. Every time their counterparts on offense coughed the ball up, they trotted back onto the field, not frustrated, but inspired.
"It got us fired up," said strong safety Doug Monaghan. "That's why we're here."
The UC offense would lose five fumbles - a Mountaineer Field record - but the Bearcat defenders forced five turnovers of their own and held West Virginia (1-2) to just 62 yards and one touchdown following the UC gaffes.
The Bearcats (2-0) rode their swift, determined defensive unit and three Chet Ervin field goals to post a 15-13 upset victory over the Mountaineers Saturday before 51,189 fans.
It was the first UC win over West Virginia in 13 tries.
The game was marred by 14 fumbles, eight of which were lost, 10 turnovers, seven UC dropped passes and two missed extra points. But as far as the Bearcats were concerned, it was a masterpiece.
"If we do the little things right, we put the game away a little earlier," said UC coach Rick Minter.
West Virginia had a chance to win with 2:23 to go. Having taken over on the UC 49 with 5:04 to go, the Mountaineers drove to the UC 31, where on fourth-and-three, with UC leading by two, Brad Cooper attempted a 49-yard field goal that was short and off to the right.
When the game ended, the Bearcats ran to both corners of the field where several hundred UC supporters were stationed and sang the UC fight song.
"Our defense controlled the ballgame," Minter said. "We thought we could be pretty good on defense after our opening game (against East Carolina), but we didn't quite have a measuring stick because of who we played. But this was a good football team we played today."
West Virginia averaged 427 yards through its first two games, 261 rushing. UC held the Mountaineers to 243 yards, 118 on the ground. Running back Quincy Wilson, who averaged 123 yards entering the game, was held to 39 on 18 carries.
"If we can't get the running game going, that lets the defensive backs know we're going to have to start throwing," said West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall. "That makes their job easier. They've got a good pass rush. They've got a good defensive line. They did a good job of getting off the ball."
The winning UC points came on Ervin's 37-yard field goal with 2:45 left in the third quarter after the Bearcats put together a 64-yard drive that moved them from their own 17 to the West Virginia 20.
"I knew it had plenty of leg," Ervin said.
The Bearcats appeared to put the game away early in the fourth quarter when Monaghan intercepted a Marshall pass and returned it to the West Virginia 33.
Quarterback Gino Guidugli drove his teammates down to the 10, then hit wide receiver Derick Ross with a pass, but just as Ross was about to cross the goal line he was hit by West Virginia linebacker Grant Wiley and fumbled the ball away.
"I was hoping they were going to call him down," Guidugli said. "That's a killer. It can't get much worse than that."
But again the defense buckled down and stopped West Virginia on three plays.
"We just looked at it as an opportunity to get back on the field and make something happen," said UC linebacker Jamar Enzor.
Cin-FG 44 Ervin, 12:45
Cin-FG 43 Ervin, 8:16
WVU-Henry 11 pass from Marshall (Cooper kick), 5:32
Cin-Dawley 3 pass from Guidugli (kick failed), 1:49
WVU-Garvin 48 pass from Marshall (kick failed), 8:57
Cin-FG Ervin 37 (Robbins kick), 1:59
|Time of Possession||34:27||25:33|
RUSHING-Cincinnati, Hall 18-85, Eddington 17-53, Guidugli 11-17, Murray 2-10, Team 1-0. West Virginia, Wilson 18-39, Marshall 11-36, Harris 5-22, Phillips 4-13, Garvin 2-8.
PASSING-Cincinnati, Guidugli 17-35-0-146, Carey 0-1-0-0. West Virginia, Marshall 10-30-2-125, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Cincinnati, Hall 4-48, Ross 3-33, Eddington 3-18, Murray 2-16, Vann 2-9, Hart 1-10, Lucius 1-9, Dawley 1-3. West Virginia, Henderson 3-14, Garvin 2-60, Wilson 2-18, Pennington 1-16, Henry 1-11, Harris 1-6.
UC 15, WVU 13
Expanded duties a kick for special teams' Ervin
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