BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Pittsburgh players dumped the cooler
full of sports drink on Phil Bennett.
They hoped Dave Wannstedt, watching on TV in Naples, Fla., also
felt an affectionate chill.
Pittsburgh scored touchdowns off two mistakes by Kentucky's
punting team and the Panthers, playing for their former coach, beat
the Wildcats 27-10 in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday.
Pittsburgh players dedicated the win to Wannstedt, who was
forced to resign following a disappointing regular season.
"We knew coach Wannstedt was watching," safety Dom DeCicco
said. "It was special to come out here and play the way we did and
get this win after all the adversity we've been through."
Bennett, the defensive coordinator, was the acting head coach in
his final game with Pittsburgh. Bennett was hired Friday as
Baylor's defensive coordinator.
Pitt hired Miami of Ohio coach Mike Haywood to replace
Wannstedt, but Haywood was fired less than three weeks later after
he was jailed in Indiana on a domestic violence charge. The school
has yet to hire another head coach.
Pittsburgh's players were not overwhelmed by the turmoil.
"We've got good kids," said Bennett, who was soaked with about
1:30 remaining. "They've been through a lot. I'm just proud of
them and I know Dave Wannstedt is."
Bennett said the players felt responsible for Wannstedt's forced
"Whether we want to admit it or not, don't kid yourself. They
thought that maybe they were the problem of why our coach was
released, and they went out and wanted to play well," Bennett
said. "It was obvious that there was a focus, and they went out
and executed and played well."
Andrew Taglianetti blocked a punt to set up Pittsburgh's first
touchdown late in the first half. An incomplete pass on Kentucky's
fake punt early in the second half set up Tino Sunseri's 13-yard
touchdown pass to Brock DeCicco. Sunseri also ran for a touchdown.
The Panthers (8-5) protected the lead with their running game.
Dion Lewis ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, and Ray Graham added
90 yards rushing as the Panthers outgained Kentucky 261-104 on the
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)