Underwood's interception gave Cincinnati life


POSTED: Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cincinnati looked so lifeless, doctors were already calling in the time of death.

From its first three and out on the opening drive in which star wide receiver Dominick Goodman went down with an injury, the Bearcats looked like they were content with a Big East championship and enjoying a vacation in Hawaii.

The Warriors led 24-10 in the fourth quarter and were in complete control when Brandon Underwood shocked his team back to life.

A 22-yard interception return for a score off a tipped Greg Alexander pass paved the way for the Bearcats to score 19 unanswered points to stun Hawaii 29-24 last night at Aloha Stadium.

“;We just had to calm down and make sure that everybody was on the same page,”; Underwood said. “;It was all odds against us and after (the interception), I felt a whole shift in the momentum for the whole game.”;

The Bearcats were on life support before coming back to win their school-record 11th game this season.

They missed golden opportunities in the first half to extend on their 10-3 advantage. Sure-footed place-kicker Jake Rogers had a field goal blocked and Tony Pike threw the first of two interceptions in Hawaii territory to kill a promising drive.

The miscues let Hawaii hang around, and eventually the Warriors took advantage. Malcolm Lane burned the Bearcats secondary for a 60-yard reception early in the third quarter that set up the touchdown that tied the game at 10. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, John Goebel fumbled and 5 minutes into the second half, the Warriors had put up 14 quick points.

“;There's no question at that point we were certainly kicking ourselves for the miscues,”; Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said. “;As has been the case with this team all year, they don't stop the game in the third quarter.

“;You keep playing and one great thing about this group is they keep fighting and keep playing and we overcame a lot of the miscues.”;

Even then, Cincinnati's hopes at a win looked as promising as a white Christmas in Hawaii. It was already without Goodman, running back Jacob Ramsey and left tackle Jeff Linkenbach when Pike left the game with an arm injury.

Backup Dustin Grutza replaced him in the final quarter and put the Bearcats in the lead for good, scrambling for his life before finding Mardy Gilyard for the go-ahead 69-yard touchdown with 4:42 remaining.

“;I tried to go to the boundary side, it wasn't open, felt a little pressure and escaped out and saw Mardy wide open,”; Grutza said. “;It's a great feeling.”;