(Saturday, January 8th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 27, Kentucky 10
Birmingham, AL (Sports Network) - Dion Lewis carried 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown to lead Pittsburgh to a 27-10 victory over Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Legion Field.
Tino Sunseri connected on 9-of-19 throws for 96 yards and a score as interim coach Phil Bennett guided the Panthers (8-5) to a second straight bowl win.
Bennett, who will become the Baylor defensive coordinator, stepped in for Mike Haywood, who was hired on December 16 and then fired January 1.
"If you could write a script, this would be it," Bennett said about the win considering the adverse circumstances. "We had success on both sides of the ball, the kicking game was sound and I am just very happy for these kids."
Morgan Newton threw for 211 yards on 21-of-36 efficiency for the Wildcats (6-7), who were appearing in a bowl game for a school-record fifth consecutive season.
"We've been a team that has had big plays offensively and we didn't make those big plays today," Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said. "We didn't get ourselves off the field on defense and we certainly didn't play well on special teams, either."
Randall Cobb carried three times for 23 yards, caught five passes for 62 more, returned four kickoffs for 101 yards and brought back two punts for 18 yards to finish 2010 with an SEC single-season record 2,396 all-purpose yards.
Lewis, meanwhile, pushed his career rushing total to 2,860 yards to move past Billy West and LeSean McCoy into fourth place on Pitt's all-time list.
Craig McIntosh's 50-yard field goal got Kentucky on the board with 3:15 left in the first quarter, in which each team committed a turnover on its first possession.
Pitt got the game tied on a 21-yard field goal from Dan Hutchins that finished off a 14-play, 70-yard drive with 11 1/2 minutes remaining before halftime.
Kentucky moved to the Panthers 37-yard line on the next possession but Newton was stuff on fourth-and-inches, turning the ball over on downs.
Pitt then moved to the Kentucky 16 on the ensuing drive but had to settle for a 33-yard boot from Hutchins to make it 6-3 with 3 1/2 minutes to go before the break.
The Wildcats were stopped on the next series and had their punt blocked by Andrew Taglianetti, setting up the Panthers at the Kentucky 10.
The Panthers cashed in three plays later when Sunseri ducked in from a yard out to extend the lead to 13-3 with 34 ticks to go before the intermission.
Pitt's first touch in the second half resulted in a 13-yard scoring toss from Sunseri to Brock DeCicco to increase the margin to 20-3 with 10:47 left in the third period. The Panthers covered 35 yards in four plays after a sack of Matt Roark turned the ball over on downs.
Moncell Allen dived over from a yard out to complete a 14-play, 74-yard drive that sliced the lead to 20-10 with less than a minute left in the quarter.
The Panthers took the ball right back down the field on the next series, moving 69 yards on 12 plays to take a 27-10 lead on a two-yard TD run by Lewis. Sunseri kept the drive going with a 4th-and-4 completion to Mike Cruz.
Ray Graham added 90 rushing yards on 17 carries while Sunseri ran four times for 53 yards in the victory...Cruz led the Panthers with 24 receiving yards on two grabs...Pitt improved to 12-15 in bowl games...Jonathan Baldwin was held to one catch for 12 yards after making 52 grabs for 810 yards during the regular season for Pitt...The Panthers last faced a team from the SEC in 1983, beating Tennessee 13-3...Pitt's last meeting with a SEC team in a bowl game was the 1982 Sugar Bowl when it defeated Georgia, 24-20...Derrick Locke led Kentucky with 71 yards on the ground on 12 totes and made six catches for 61 yards. Newton carried 12 times for 18 yards...Kentucky is 8-7 in bowl games...Phillips was the first Kentucky head coach to take the team to a bowl game in his first season.He was a member of the Wildcats teams that played in the 1983 and 1984 Hall of Fame Bowl games in Birmingham...Kentucky played without starting quarterback Mike Hartline who was arrested for disorderly conduct on December 10 and subsequently suspended for the game...The Wildcats finished with at least six wins for five straight seasons for the first time since 1909-13.
01/08 18:36:14 ET