Qadree Ollison

Keenan Reynolds reclaims Div. 1 TD record as Navy drops anchor on Pitt

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Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds played his final college football game on his home field needing three touchdowns to reclaim the Division 1 career touchdown record he set earlier this month. In the fourth quarter, Reynolds ran for his third rushing touchdown of the game, his 88th career touchdown, to do just that. Reynolds rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another as No. 21 Navy (11-2) defeated Pittsburgh (8-5) in the Military Bowl, 44-28.

Pitt got off to a good start when Quadree Henderson returned the game’s opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but Navy scored the next 31 points by the midway point of the third quarter. To their credit, the Panthers battled back after falling behind 31-7. Pitt’s first offensive touchdown came on a Nathan Peterman touchdown pass to Qadree Ollison to cut into the Navy lead late in the third quarter. Two plays later, Pitt forced Chris Swain to fumble and Jordan Whitehead scooped the loose ball up and returned it for a 22-yard touchdown. All of a sudden, Pitt was only down by 10 points. A 15-yard touchdown run by Toneo Gulley early in the fourth quarter put Navy back up by 17 and the two teams exchanged touchdowns from there. It was somewhat fitting the final score of the game was the record-setting touchdown run by Reynolds, with 4:19 to play.

Navy’s record-setting quarterback led all players with 144 rushing yards, and he also took to the air more frequently than he is accustomed to doing. Reynolds completed nine of his 17 pass attempts for 126 yards and a touchdown. Just for good measure, Reynolds added a 47-yard reception, thrown by Swain, that seemed to catch Pittsburgh’s defense off guard. He just did not have the speed to keep from getting caught from behind. Reynolds will go down in history as one of the best players to play for the Navy football program, and he could very well go on to do so much more for this country.

Navy’s bowl win was the first of the bowl season for the American Athletic Conference. Before Navy’s victory, the AAC had gone a dreadful 0-5 this postseason. One of those losses came against the ACC, with Tulsa falling just shy against Virginia Tech in an offensive outburst. Navy’s 11 wins this season is a new program high. Year one in the AAC may have lacked a division or conference championship, but the Midshipmen left their mark on their new conference and ended the year with a solid bowl victory and some history. All things considered, this was a huge success for Navy this season.

You can argue Pittsburgh also had a successful year under new head coach Pat Narduzzi. Though the Panthers fizzled out down the stretch, the Panthers won eight games for the first time since joining the ACC and first time since 2010.

Navy will open the 2016 season right back in Annapolis, the site of the Military Bowl, on September 3 against FCS power Fordham. Pittsburgh will also open the season at home that same day against another FCS power, Villanova.

Former four-star RB Chris James announces transfer from Pitt

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Pittsburgh running back Chris James, a sophomore, will be on the move this offseason in pursuit of a new place to call home. The Panthers running back took to his Instagram account Monday to announce he will be transferring out of the program.

“I came to Pitt and instantly developed a love for the city, built relationships that have help mold who I am today,” James said. “Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. I have to do what’s best for me and that is to move on.”

The decision by James comes as Pittsburgh is undergoing some slight changes to the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is leaving the program to take on the same role at Georgia and the Panthers are now searching for a new offensive coordinator to fill the role under Pat Narduzzi. James joins linebacker Jamal Davis and safety Patrick Amara among players deciding to transfer from Pitt since the end of the regular season.

James played in 10 games this season for the Panthers, rushing 56 times for 253 yards without a touchdown. James was most recently listed on the Pitt depth chart as the top backup to Qadree Ollison with James Conner knocked out for the season. Ollison, a freshman, led the Panthers with 1,048 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns this fall. James was a four-star recruit in Pittsburgh’s Class of 2014 out of Illinois. He chose Pittsburgh over offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona State, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin among others.

ACC coaches tab Deshaun Watson as Player of the Year

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The media, rightly, thought highly of Deshaun Watson when doling out its postseason awards.  Now, the league’s coaches are following suit.

The ACC Wednesday announced its all-league selections and honors as voted on by its head coaches, with the Clemson quarterback taking home the conference’s overall Player of the Year award.  Additionally, and not surprisingly, Watson was named as the Offensive Player of the Year.

Watson received 10 of the 14 first-place votes for overall Player of the Year, with Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams splitting the other two votes.  Watson received 11 first-place votes for the offensive award, followed by Williams’ two and Cook’s one.

Watson’s counterpart on the other side of the ball, Duke safety Jeremy Cash, was named Defensive Player of the Year, while Watson’s sideline boss, Dabo Swinney, took home Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Tigers to a perfect regular season and top seed in the College Football Playoff.  Cash received six first-place votes — Clemson’s Shaq Lawson had five — while Swinney’s 11 easily outdistanced North Carolina’s Larry Fedora‘s three.

Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead was selected as the Defensive Rookie of the Year (nine first-place votes), while his teammate, running back Qadree Ollison, was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year (eight).  With five first-place votes each, Ollison and Whitehead were named co-Rookies of the Year.

Below are the first- and second-team offenses and defenses, again as selected by the conference’s coaches.  One note: coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players for any of the honors. In that vein, Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd, with 39 votes (first-place votes are worth three points), was as close to a unanimous first-team selection as you can get, with Cook’s 38 votes not far behind.

First-Team Offense
WR Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt (39)
WR Artavis Scott, So., Clemson (34)
WR Isaiah Ford, So., Virginia Tech (26)
TE Jordan Leggett, Jr., Clemson (22)
T Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State (33)
T Adam Bisnowaty, Jr.-R, Pitt (30)
G Landon Turner, Sr., North Carolina (36)
G Eric Mac Lain, Sr.-R, Clemson (30)
C Matt Skura, Sr.-R, Duke (35)
QB Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson (37)
RB Dalvin Cook, So., Florida State (38)
RB Wayne Gallman, So.-R, Clemson (30)
K Roberto Aguayo, Jr.-R, Florida State (32)
Sp. Ryan Switzer, Jr., North Carolina (29)

Second-Team Offense
WR Stacey Coley, Jr., Miami (20)
WR Kermit Whitfield, Jr., Florida State (20)
WR Canaan Severin, Sr., Virginia (17)
TE(tie) Jaylen Samuels, So., NC State ( 15)
TE(tie) Bucky Hodges, So.-R, Virginia Tech (15)
T Jon Heck, Jr.-R, North Carolina (19)
T Joe Thuney, Sr.-R, NC State (19)
G Dorian Johnson, Jr., Pitt (19)
G Caleb Peterson, Jr.-R, North Carolina (17)
C Jay Guillermo, Jr.-R, Clemson (14)
QB Marquise Williams, Sr., North Carolina (23)
RB Elijah Hood, So., North Carolina (29)
RB Qadree Ollison, Fr.-R, Pitt (20)
K Ross Martin, Sr., Duke (14)
Sp. DeVon Edwards, Jr.-R, Duke (23)

First-Team Defense
DE Shaq Lawson, Jr.-R, Clemson (35)
DE Ejuan Price, Sr.-R, Pitt (25)
DT Connor Wujciak, Sr., Boston College (28)
DT Nile Lawrence-Stample, Sr.-R, Florida State (27)
LB Steven Daniels, Sr., Boston College ( 28)
LB Brandon Chubb, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (24)
LB Ben Boulware, Jr., Clemson (24)
CB Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State (36)
CB Mackensie Alexander, So.-R, Clemson (29)
S Jeremy Cash, Sr.-R, Duke (36)
S Jayron Kearse, Jr., Clemson (28)
P Alex Kinal, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (19)

Second-Team Defense
DE Mike Rose, Sr.-R, NC State (16)
DE Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville (14)
DT Luther Maddy, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (26)
DT Carlos Watkins, Jr.-R, Clemson (17)
LB Keith Kelsey, Jr., Louisville (20)
LB Micah Kiser, So.-R, Virginia (19)
LB(tie) Dwayne Norman, Sr., Duke (17)
LB(tie) Reggie Northrup, Sr., Florida State (17)
CB Artie Burns, Jr., Miami (26)
CB Des Lawrence, Jr., North Carolina (11)
S Quin Blanding, So., Virginia (21)
S Justin Simmons, Sr., Boston College ( 16)
P Riley Dixon, Sr., Syracuse (17)

Pittsburgh keeps pressure on UNC for ACC Coastal after 31-13 win at Duke

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The Pittsburgh Panthers (7-3, 5-1 ACC) may still need a little help from their ACC friends, but they certainly forced UNC to keep their foot on the gas pedal coming down the stretch of the regular season. Pitt’s 31-13 victory at Duke (6-4, 3-3 ACC) kept the Panthers one game in the loss column of the Tar Heels (UNC had not played yet) as quarterback Nathan Peterman threw three touchdown passes.

After going into halftime tied at 10-10, Pitt took care of business in the second quarter with Peterman tossing a short touchdown pass to J.P. Holtz to take a 17-10 lead at the end of a 10-play, 81-yard drive to open the half. The Panthers again scored through the air on their next possession with Peterman connecting with Dontez Ford. Star wide receiver Tyler Boyd did not put up huge numbers catching the football (three receptions for 38 yards), but Boyd did help out on the ground with 79 rushing yards. Boyd did not catch a pass in the second half. Qadree Ollison was the leading rusher in the game with 110 yards and a score. Pitt’s defense also got the job done, with three turnovers nd holding Duke without a touchdown since the first quarter. Outside of a 77-yard gain by Duke quarterback Parker Boehme, Pitt allowed just 36 rushing yards in the game.

With the win, Pitt continues to keep a shot at the ACC Coastal Division crown alive, depending on what North Carolina does. The Tar Heels have Miami today, with Virginia Tech and North Carolina State each on the road after today. Pitt started the day a game behind North Carolina, and UNC owns the head-to-head tiebreaker to make it more of a two-game lead on the Panthers. With home games against Louisville (next week) and Miami (Nov. 28), Pitt will have a chance to keep the pressure on UCN down the stretch.

Duke is now eliminated from winning the ACC Coastal Division. The loss to the Blue Devils also means we are guaranteed to see a new representative of the division in the  ACC Championship Game out of the Coastal Division. The only teams to represent the division since the first ACC title game in 2005 have been Virginia Tech (five times), Georgia Tech (four) and Duke (one). UNC, Pittsburgh and Miami have yet to play in the game, but are now the only possibilities to play Clemson this year.

Duke now has to shake off a three-game losing streak and will have to do so on the road for the remainder of the season. Duke visits Virginia next week and closes the regular season at Wake Forest.