Pitt Holds Off Delaware 17-14
[Pittsburgh,PA] Fresh off their 35-34 stunning victory vs. the University of Central Florida(UCF), the Pitt Panthers were 27-point favorites to beat FCS Subdivision Delaware, and of course the expectation was that the Panthers knew better than to underestimate an opponent a week after they were underestimated by most of the country.
But when the news broke that the Panthers would be without Kenny Pickett, AJ Davis and Vincent Davis, it made you wonder if head coach Pat Narduzzi tried to treat this game as a ‘guaranteed win’ and that he was giving some of his starters the week off.
Nevertheless, the Panthers won 17-14 and improved to 3-2 (0-1 ACC) but it certainly wasn’t easy, and Pitt did not look like the team that beat UCF. But a win’s a win.
“It was not the Pitt football that we like to see. I think we played flat and blame me. Especially after last week’s win. But we found a way to get it done and got the win. But way too many penalties.”
Nick Patti, filling in for Pickett passed for 271 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. His final score to Taysir Mack in the 4th quarter gave the Panthers the lead after they trailed 14-10 for a quarter-in-a half. Patti’s first score was a 30-yard pass to V’Lique Carter to give the Panthers a 7- 0 lead.
When asked when it was decided that Pickett would play, Patti said “Game-time decision. Kenny was banged up. The concern was his health. Nick took most of the snaps with Jeff George behind him.”
Patti found Mack often in the game as the wide-receiver caught 5 passes for 124 yards and the game-winning score. He also caught a 46 and 48-yard pass to put the Panthers into scoring position. “Taysir Mack makes every quarterback better when he’s on the field.” Said Narduzzi.
Pitt also found strength in the running game as Todd Sibley got the start and rushed for a career- high 106 yards on 22 carries. He was also given the ball late in the 4th quarter to help wear down the Delaware defense and kill the clock. V’Lique Carter had 42 yards rushing on 9 carries as the Panthers rushed for 172 yards as a team. Narduzzi said AJ Davis and Vincent Davis did not practice this week, so it was known ahead of time that they would not play.
Pitt’s defense once again stood strong as they held the Blue Hens to a touchdown and a field goal. They got to Nolan Henderson often, sacking him 6 times, with linebacker Kylan Johnson sacking him twice. Team leader Jaylen Twyman was in on a half-sack, giving him a team- leading 6 for the season.
Pitt’s struggles came after Patti was intercepted in Pitt territory, in which Delaware capitalized and scored when Henderson found Jourdan Townsend for a 5-yard score to take a 14-10 lead. For the game, Henderson passed for 127 yards and 2 scores. Pitt’s most critical decision was going for a 57-yard field goal attempt that kicker Alex Kessman missed in the 3rd quarter. Kessman would make a 36-yard field goal late in the 2nd quarter, ending his missed-field goal slump of 4.
But the Panthers found a way to win and will now prepare to travel to Durham, North Carolina to face the Duke Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0 ACC) as they resume Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play.
“We got a character team that found a way to win. Teams do find a way to lose. We made a lot of mistakes today. I’m not sure what the problem was but it’s an ugly win.” ”-Said Narduzzi
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