By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Tony Pike threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kazeem Alli in overtime to lift Cincinnati to a 26-23 win over No. 20 West Virginia on Saturday night, creating a three-way tie atop the Big East.
West Virginia (6-3, 3-1) scored 13 points and recovered an onside kick in the final 1:11 to force overtime, including Pat McAfee's 52-yard field goal as time ran out. McAfee added a 27-yard field goal on West Virginia's overtime possession.
Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1) managed just two first downs after halftime after leading 20-7, but answered the field goal with a well-run touchdown drive and created a first-place logjam with West Virginia and No. 25 Pittsburgh.
Pike, making his third straight start with a surgically repaired left forearm, found Dominick Goodman on a 10-yard pass to start Cincinnati's overtime possession.
A roughing-the-passer penalty on West Virginia's Sidney Glover on the next play moved the ball to the 7. After Jacob Ramsey ran for 5 yards, Pike flipped to Alli, who was alone in the end zone.
West Virginia turned the ball over on downs twice inside the Cincinnati 10-yard line in the fourth quarter but it was the Bearcats who seemed to self destruct near the end.
Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber ran out of the back of the end zone with 1:11 left to give West Virginia it's first points since midway through the first quarter and cut the Bearcats' lead to 20-9.
West Virginia got the ball back at its 38 and needed just seven plays to score. White threw a 3-yard TD pass to Dorrell Jalloh with 19 seconds left and White converted the 2-point conversion run.
Mortty Ivy recovered the ensuing onside kick for West Virginia at the Mountaineers' 44 and White threw to Jalloh for 21 yards to the Cincinnati 35 with 10 seconds left. After an incomplete pass, McAfee tied his career-long field goal.
West Virginia's kickoff team ranks worst in the 119-team FBS in yards allowed and Cincinnati exploited the Mountaineers from the start. Mardy Gilyard returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Pike's 4-yard run capped a 77-yard drive to put Cincinnati ahead 20-7 late in the second quarter. The lead should have been even more lopsided but the Bearcats couldn't capitalize on several other early opportunities.
The Bearcats twice took over inside the West Virginia 35 in the first quarter—once on a fumble and the other time on a bad punt and West Virginia penalty—but settled for field goals.
Pike also overthrew an uncovered Alli far downfield on a trick play, and db]Jake Rogers[/db]' 29-yard field goal attempt hit the upright just before halftime, his first miss of the season.