Pitt Falls 31-19 to #13 Miami
The Pitt Panther’s misfortunes continued to Saturday as they saw their losing streak extend to 3 as they were defeated by No. 13 Miami beat Pitt 31-19 on Saturday.
“They made more plays than we did today. We gave them a few short fields.” Said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “We gave up a couple explosives.”
Eriq King threw four touchdown passes and WR Will Mallory caught two of King’s scoring
passes as the Hurricanes (4-1, 3-1 ACC) bounced back from a 42-17 loss at top-ranked Clemson last week. The Panthers (3-3, 2-3 ACC) were without senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who suffered an ankle injury against Boston College last week. Pickett leads the nation with 1,389 passing yards but didn’t travel with the team.
When asked when he knew Pickett wouldn’t play, Narduzzi replied. “I knew early in the week. I obviously didn’t want Miami to know. I wanted them to prepare for whatever. Maybe they had a clue.”
Redshirt freshman Joey Yellen replaced Pickett, completing 22 of 46 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. Alex Kessman kicked four field goals for the Panthers and became ‘s all-time leader with 57. Kessman surpassed Chris Blewitt, who had 55 field goals from 2013-16.
Pitt rallied from a 21-6 deficit with 10 unanswered points on Kessman’s record-setting third field-goal and Yellen’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Moraga early in the third quarter. Marquis Williams’ 34-yard interception return to the Miami 1 set up Moraga’s score. But Miami regained its double-digit advantage on King’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Mallory.
But what hurt the Panthers for a second-straight year vs. the Hurricanes was their struggles to get TDs in the Red Zone. They were also plagued by penalties. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching them and getting the details out of them.”-Said Narduzzi.
Kessman’s fourth conversion with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter made it 28-19 before Jose Borregales gave Miami another double-digit cushion with his 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.
The Hurricanes struck first on King’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Cam’Ron Harris midway
through the first quarter. King retreated from an attempted draw and found an open Harris down the middle. King connected with Mallory on a 6-yard score with 6:44 remaining in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. Kessman kicked two field goals late in the second quarter and got the Panthers within 14-6. Pitt settled for the second field goal after being unable to capitalize on a drive starting at the Miami 12 that was set by Paris Ford’s 25-yard interception return.
Unfortunately the Panthers didn’t get any help from the running game as they were only able to generate a combined 22 yards (28 of those yards were behind the line of scrimmage by Yellen)
“We gotta help him out in the run game. They did a good job of stuffing us up front. Can’t
become a passing game where Joey’s throwing it every down.”-Said Narduzzi.
The Panthers must now have short memories about his loss and prepare to take on #4 Notre Dame (4-0, 3-0 ACC) at Heinz Field next Saturday with the goal of ending this losing streak and hopes of a Pickett return. When asked if Pickett underwent surgery, Narduzzi responded “I’m not going to get into what he’s got or what he did. Not what we do. We expect Kenny to be back ASAP. Will he be back this weekend? I don’t know. There’s a chance. I certainly hope after the open weekend for sure.”