Pitt Holds Off Louisville

 

 

 

PITTSBURGH (pittsburghpanthers.com and AP) - Nathan Peterman tossed four touchdowns in the second quarter and Pittsburgh held off a late rally to beat Louisville 45-34 on Saturday.

Freshman Qadree Ollison ran for 152 yards and a score for the Panthers (8-3, 6-1 ACC), who reached the eight-win plateau in the regular season for the first time since 2009 with the victory. Ejuan Price had five sacks for Pitt, which led by 25 in the first half and withstood a comeback by the Cardinals (6-5, 5-3).

Lamar Jackson threw for 141 yards and a score and ran for another after replacing ineffective Kyle Bolin late in the first half. Jamari Staples caught nine passes for 194 yards and a touchdown but the Cardinals saw their four-game winning streak come to an abrupt half.

The Panthers have been rejuvenated in coach Pat Narduzzi's first season, fueled by his aggression and an offense that takes care of the ball. Pitt held the ball for more than 37 minutes, riding Peterman's arm to an early lead and Ollison's legs to run the clock in the second half to protect it.

Ollison, who went over 1,000 yards on the season, keyed a late 60-yard drive that set up a 18-yard Chris Blewitt field goal with 5:25 to play to give the Panthers some space after the Cardinals had pulled within eight early in the fourth quarter.

Louisville's last chance ended when Jackson threw incomplete on fourth down near midfield with 4:20 left. The Panthers took over and ran out the remaining time, Narduzzi and his resilient team spilling onto the field as time ran out.

Louisville came in arguably the hottest team in the ACC outside of Clemson and North Carolina. The Cardinals had won six of seven thanks in part to a defense that founds its legs while Bobby Petrino's offense sorted itself out.

All of that momentum, however, vanished in a stunning first half in which Peterman and the Panthers did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to.

Pitt scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the second quarter alone as Peterman spread it around. He connected with Tyler Boyd and Dontez Ford for long touchdowns and twice flipped the ball to seldom-used fullback George Aston for the other two. When Avonte Maddox picked off a Bolini throw and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, the Panthers were up 42-17 with 35 seconds to go before the break.

Petrino then pulled Bolin in favor of Jackson, who started early in the season only to lose it to Bolin earlier this month. The freshman gave the Cardinals an immediate spark, hitting Staples - who was bafflingly single covered - for a 49-yard strike with 3 seconds left in the half to pull the Cardinals within 18.

Louisville narrowed the deficit to 42-34 on a 2-yard run by Jackson early in the fourth quarter but Price and Pitt's relentlessly attacking defense prevented the kind of collapse that has too often defined the program for much of the last 30 years.