Pitt Narrowly Defeats Syracuse

 

 

 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (pittsburghpanthers.com and AP) A fake punt for a first down helped set up Chris Blewitt's 25-yard field goal on the final play of the game to lift No. 25 Pittsburgh over Syracuse 23-30 on Saturday.

The Panthers (6-1, 4-0 ACC) have now won four of five on the road, with their only loss at Iowa on a 57-yard field goal on the final play of the game. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) has lost four straight.

Qadree Ollison ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers, including key yardage on the winning drive.

With the score at 20-all and time ticking away, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi called for a fake punt on fourth down near midfield. Punter Ryan Winslow hit Matt Galambos for 12 yards and a first down.

Ollison took care of the rest, gaining 26 yards on seven straight carries to set up the winning kick.

The Panthers are off to their best start in six years. A reason for Pitt's impressive start has been its ability to win close games. The Panthers are 5-1 in contests decided by single digits, including last week's 31-28 victory at Georgia Tech on Blewitt's school-record, 56-yard field goal with 1:11 left.

Freshman quarterback Eric Dungey kept the Orange in the game, going 21 of 30 for 210 yards passing and two scores. Steve Ishmael had seven catches for a career-high 114 yards and one TD.

The Orange had a scare on the first play of the second half when Dungey was hit hard on a keeper. Although he was face-down on the turf for a couple of seconds, he hopped up but was taken to the locker room to be evaluated.

Dungey, who missed the LSU game last month with a head injury suffered in a helmet-to-helmet hit against Central Michigan, returned to the bench moments later and on his first play back in hit Ishmael with a 33-yard completion while rolling out.

But Dungey, who led the ACC in pass efficiency (167.1), was intercepted twice after he returned. Syracuse escaped the first pick, near midfield by Galambos, when the Panthers couldn't overcome an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and were forced to punt.

When Lafayette Pitts intercepted a Dungey throw over the middle late in the third quarter and returned it 17 yards to the Syracuse 44, the Panthers took advantage, sticking to the ground game. Ollison's 18-yard run up the middle set up his own 1-yard TD and gave Pitt a 20-17 lead early in the fourth.

Dungey sped untouched for 26 yards when Syracuse got the ball back to set up Cole Murphy's tying 37-yard field goal.

Tyler Boyd, the most prolific pass catcher in Pitt history with 204 career receptions, had 12 catches for 93 yards, six runs for 39, and one pass completion for 38. Nate Peterman was efficient again, going 19-for-25 passing for 189 yards.