LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Armon Binns knew it would work.
Binns alerted quarterback Zach Collaros that he could get open against a certain Louisville defensive formation. He ran right past a defender — just as he predicted — to catch a 62-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Friday night, sending Cincinnati past Louisville 35-27 in the Big East opener for both schools.
Article continues below ...
Simple as throw-and-catch.
“I was just telling Zach, if he sticks it in there, I’ll go get it,” said Binns, who ran past cornerback Bobby Burns. “It worked out for us.”
Collaros threw a career-high five touchdown passes — three to Binns — and Cincinnati (3-3) overcame the loss of another receiver. D.J. Woods left in the third quarter after banging his head on the ground and losing his helmet on a touchdown catch.
The two-time defending Big East champions already were short-handed at receiver with Vidal Hazelton out with a season-ending knee injury.
“We’ve suffered through some adversity all year and there was absolutely no panic on the sideline,” coach Butch Jones said.
Binns’ 62-yard touchdown decided a game of try-to-top-this plays. He also scored on catches of 47 and 10 yards in the best game of his career.
Collaros was 18 of 28 for 275 yards with a pair of interceptions. His final throw to Binns was the clincher.
“He was telling me he can get by that corner,” Collaros said. “I just trusted him. All day, he made plays for me.”
Bilal Powell ran for a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns, keeping Louisville (3-3) in the game. He had an electrifying 85-yard touchdown run that helped the Cardinals take a 24-21 lead into halftime.
“That was an unbelievable run,” coach Charlie Strong said. “Everyone else needs to play like him.”
The Cardinals managed only a field goal in the second half. Out of timeouts, Louisville went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 12 with 4:20 left. Adam Froman’s pass was broken up by Camerron Cheatham and Cincinnati ran out the clock.
Louisville also missed two field goal attempts.
“Again and again, it came down to us stopping ourselves,” said Froman, who was 18 of 27 for 179 yards.
The Ohio River rivalry — a keg of nails goes to the winner — got off to a raucous start and never slowed down.
Collaros rolled right and saw Woods running several yards beyond the coverage for a 47-yard touchdown on Cincinnati’s first play. In the end zone, Woods got a 15-yard penalty for going face-to-face and talking trash at safety Shenard Holton — just the start of a lot of jawing and shoving throughout.
The trick plays and big plays kept coming, too.
Louisville ranks third nationally in sacks, but a little defensive deception set up its first touchdown. Tackle Greg Scruggs dropped into pass coverage and picked off Collaros, who never saw him. Scruggs’ first career interception set up Froman’s 11-yard TD pass.
Powell’s dazzling touchdown run revved up Louisville.
A half-dozen Bearcats got their hands on Powell but couldn’t bring him down on an 85-yard scamper that tied it at 14 late in the first quarter. The tackle-shredding runner has three TDs of at least 70 yards this season.
The Cardinals also emptied their play book. Froman lateraled to receiver Doug Beaumont, who threw a pass to Froman that went for 28 yards and set up a field goal.
Nothing tricky about Cincinnati’s passing game. Receivers ran past defenders for their big plays.
Which would carry the day, Powell or Collaros?
Powell broke a 46-yard run on his first carry in the second half, but Collaros kept going, too. His 14-yard touchdown pass to Woods put Cincinnati ahead 28-24. Woods’ head slammed on the ground after a hard hit in the end zone, his helmet rolling off, and he was slow getting up.
Woods went to the sideline, got tested for a concussion and didn’t return, leaving it up to Binns to make the play that mattered most. Updated October 15, 2010