It had been 16 years since the last time Penn State and Pitt met on the football field. It was worth the wait.
Pitt’s Ryan Lewis picked off a bizarre deep pass to the end zone from Penn State’s Trace McSorley with just over a minute to play, allowing the Panthers to put the cap on a 42-39 victory over their in-state rivals. It was an awkward way for the game to end after Penn State appeared to be near field goal range for a possible tie at the very worst. It was the first interception thrown by McSorley, although he also lost two fumbles in the first half as well, with one giving Pittsburgh a short field early in the game to score a quick touchdown.
Pitt running back James Conner was looking good against the Penn State defense, rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also added a touchdown reception and 29 receiving yards as Pitt’s offense took it to Penn State’s defense from start to finish with a few hiccups along the way. Pittsburgh pounded out 341 rushing yards against Penn State, averaging 6.1 yards per rushing attempt. Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman had a quietly efficient afternoon, completing 11 of 15 pass attempts for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Quandree Henderson was also a problem for Penn State all afternoon, using speed to his advantage to run for 58 yards and catch three passes for 47 yards.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley scored five touchdowns in the losing effort, tying a program single-game record previously set by Ki-Jana Carter in 1994. Barkley had four touchdowns on the ground and one more on a pass.
Pittsburgh hits the road next week to venture into Big 12 territory. The Panthers head to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were clipped by Central Michigan on the final play of the game as this game was going on.
Penn State will return to Beaver Stadium next week in hopes of picking up some revenge against Temple. Yes, this may be the rare once-in-a-lifetime situation in which they are looking to get revenge against the Owls, who smacked Penn State around pretty good in the 2015 season opener in Philadelphia. Temple opened this season with a home loss against Army but has bounced back this week with a win over Stony Brook.
As Pittsburgh running back James Conner continues with his battle against Hodgkin lymphoma, 12 of his teammates will compete in a charity race in his honor this weekend.
A dozen Panthers players will be a part of the #ConnerStrong team in this weekend’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual charity race at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The race is a six-hour stationary bike race and players will take turns on the bike as teams try to accumulate more miles than other teams. Of course, this being a charity event, there are no losers and there are only winners.
Members of the team include Nathan Peterman, Qadree Ollison, Matt Galambos, Jaryd Jones-Smith, George Aston, Rafael Araujo-Lopes, Pat Quirin, Tony Pilato, Kellen McAlone, Manny Stocker, Tristan Cunha and Nick Goldsmith, according to Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com.
Conner has already been seen working out with the Panthers this offseason and head coach Pat Narduzzi is optimistic Conner will be back on the field this fall.
It may be hard to believe, but Miami is in position to end the season with nine wins. That assumes, of course, the Hurricanes avoid a second half meltdown against Pittsburgh and close out the year with a bowl win. For now, Miami should be feeling pretty good as the Hurricanes have stomped Pitt in the first half of an early kickoff in western Pennsylvania. Miami took a 23-3 lead into the half.
Miami has more than doubled the total offensive production of the Panthers, outgaining Pitt at halftime 248 yards to 102. The Panthers have just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in the half. Pitt also had a turnover with Nathan Peterman having a pass picked off by Artie Burns.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 166 yards, with Rashawn Scott on the receiving end of the touchdown play and leading the team with 50 receiving yards. Miami’s Joseph Yardley leads all players with 64 rushing yards. Pitt’s star receiver, Tyler Boyd, has just one catch for eight yards.
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.
After picking up a win on the east side of Pennsylvania last week, Notre Dame is looking to score a win on the western side of the commonwealth this afternoon. Things are looking good so far for the Irish, who lead Pitt 21-3 at the half.
Notre Dame struck early with a DeShone Kizer touchdown pass to Will Fuller on a 47-yard scoring play on the opening drive of the game. Kizer tossed his second touchdown of the day in the second quarter, this time to Torii Hunter Jr. inside the red zone for a 14-3 lead. Pitt’s lone score of the first half came on a Chris Blewitt field goal from 22 yards.
Pittsburgh had what looked to be a promising drive developing later in the second quarter, but a pass from Nathan Peterman was picked off at the Notre Dame 20-yard line by Mathias Farley. Pittsburgh’s defense came up to force a three-and-out, but the Irish would score once more before halftime. Kizer completed another touchdown pass to Fuller from 46 yards out to lift the Irish to a big 21-3 lead late in the second quarter. Fuller is now tied for the school record of 27 career touchdowns, a record currently shared with Jeff Samardzija.
Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise did have to leave the game to receive medical treatment. Early reports suggest Prosise suffered a concussion in addition to a shoulder injury.