CINCINNATI - Cincinnati obviously was thrown for a loop Saturday when quarterback Zach Collaros was injured in the second quarter and didn't return.
But West Virginia was pretty much unprepared for the change, too.
Collaros was knocked out of the game when he was sacked by Najee Goode at his own goal line, coughed up the ball when Bruce Irvin joined the fray and the play ended up a WVU touchdown when Julian Miller fell on the ball in the end zone.
It was a major turning point in WVU's 24-21 win.
Collaros was replaced by 6-foot-5, 197-pound sophomore Munchie Legaux, who struggled mightily to start. He threw an awful pass that was intercepted by Keith Tandy on his third play and gained just one first down in his first three series.
But he eventually broke off a 65-yard run from his own 4-yard line that changed field position, made some big runs and throws down the stretch and put the Bearcats in position to tie the game by getting them to the WVU 14 in the final seconds before a blocked field goal ended the game.
"We didn't prepare for that at all,'' Tandy said of Legaux. "I mean, Collaros runs, but not like that.''
Legaux would finish his day 10-of-21 passing for 144 yards and ran eight times for 77 yards.
WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, while admitting WVU had not worked much on Legaux, still knew what he could do.
"We had a pretty good idea what he was going to do,'' Casteel said. "But it didn't look like it at times.''
As for Collaros, whose injury was to his leg, his status for the remainder of the season is up in the air. UC coach Butch Jones said he would be evaluated Saturday night and today.
"You know there is so much to change when your backup quarterback comes in,'' Jones said. "You change your plan a little bit and then it's establishing a rhythm and a consistency and continuity. I thought in the fourth quarter we had a little bit of a rhythm started with Munchie and thought he did a pretty good job. Obviously there are things we need to get corrected going [to Rutgers] on Saturday."
Collaros' injury could be significant because Cincinnati is still a half game in front of everyone else in the Big East and can win the league by winning out. The Bearcats play at Rutgers and Syracuse the next two weeks and home against Connecticut to finish out.
West Virginia seemed to be cruising early in the second half. After overcoming an awful start and falling behind 7-0, the Mountaineers had scored 17 straight points and were dominating on both sides of the ball.
The trouble was, they couldn't add to the lead because penalties kept disrupting the offense. There were holds charged to Quinton Spain and Don Barclay on one drive.
"I don't know how many [holding penalties] we had, but it was a lot,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "But it's part of the game. You have to overcome that. We didn't all the time, but we didn't cave in, either.''