Wow, time flies, huh?
Ten years ago, Bearcat fans had hope. Hope that been building since the 30-11 win over then-No. 7 Rutgers. Hope that ramped up when Brian Kelly won the PapaJohns.com Bowl against Southern Miss, leading UC to its first 10-win season in 56 years. It was time for Cincinnati football to take the nation by storm, and Kelly was clearly taking them in the right direction.
December 5, 2009 is a day any Bearcat football fan remembers. It was a gray day and every T.V. in my house was showing ABC. There was no bigger day than that day. Cincinnati had the chance to clinch not only a BCS bowl, but there was a National Championship bid on the line. Sure, some dominos had to fall, but having that hope was something UC fans hadn’t had since Kenyon Martin.
I alternated from my room to my brother’s room, chatting about what we thought regarding the game. I was 11 and he had turned 16 less than a month before, and we shared a sense of optimism, but we’re Bearcat fans — we had our bit of pessimism, too.
7-0, Pitt. OK, it’s at their place, might be a rough start.
7-7. Sweet, good way to respond.
What? Where is the team that rolled through any adversity it faced? I remember clamoring for Zach Collaros to come in because I was confused and — to be completely transparent on this holiday — I was fully preparing to have my heart shattered. Then, Mardy Gilyard happened, and there was something that came back: hope.
Halftime was still interesting. My dad was very upset with how his beloved Cats were doing. We were down two scores, but make no mistake: Cincinnati was outplayed in almost every aspect.
But the second half was different.
Gilyard did it again, using his speed to get closer to the Panthers. 31-24, and now it was a game. It didn’t hit me that we were even close until that score, because realizing that, despite playing horribly, you’re only down seven? OK, we’re still in this!
Fourth quarter. 38-24.
It was time to prepare.
It was time to realize that maybe UC football wasn’t destined to fight with the big boys. Maybe we should learn to take what we can get. But, like at many points in the game, the Bearcats couldn’t give up. In a 1:17 drive, UC was back within a score, but Jake Rogers couldn’t connect on the PAT. 38-30 with 10 minutes left, let’s go. Wait, we’d tie the game five minutes later? Nothing will stop Kelly and the Cats. Dion Lewis scored with over a minute remaining, but Pitt missed a PAT. We had 1:36 to do something that would be special.
Four plays, 61 yards, 1:03 of game time. UC had gotten to the 29-yard line and it was 1st-and-10 with 39 seconds left. Binns was at the bottom of the screen by himself, assigned to man coverage by Pitt’s defense. Pike stepped five yards behind the center, put his hands up and called for the ball. He took a step back, immediately saw Binns beating his man, took one hop into the pocket and let the ball go. It was a perfect spiral, perfect placement, it was perfect. And Binns caught it.
He caught it.
He caught the damn ball.
Jake Rogers made the damn PAT.
Cincinnati did it. We did it.
Happy Pike to Binns Day!