UNC Outmuscles Pitt 41-24

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UNC's Alijah Huzzie returns a punt for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Credit: Vince Butts/UMT

By Ray Porter Jr.  

PITTSBURGH, PA–What looked like a fresh start for the Pitt Panthers football team unfortunately resulted in what we have seen the past 2 weeks: Another loss as they fell 41-24 to the 17th Ranked North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels.

“Tough ballgame against a good football team,” said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “Drake Maye is obviously a talented guy.”

The Panthers looked very impressive on their first two drives as QB Phil Jurkovec led the Panthers to two TDs, one on a 6-yard run by RB Rodney Hammond, Jr. (12 carries, 83 yards) and a 1-yarder by RB Daniel Carter, but it just wasn’t enough to hold back a Tar Heels team that has averaged 34 points-per-game thus far in 2023. QB Drake Maye (22-30, 296 yards, TD) was able to engineer 3 TD drives that resulted in twenty-one points, 7 came from RB Omarion Hampton (18 carries, 67 yards). The right-handed Moye’s TD to WR Kobe Paysor came from his left hand while he was in the clutches of a Pitt defender. WR JJ Jones added 117 yards on eight catches for the Tar Heels (4-0, 1-0 ACC)

“We tried to do some different things, but I’ve never seen so many passes caught on the sidelines. … Drake Maye is a good quarterback, ” said Narduzzi.

Punt Returner Alijah Huzzie scored on an 81-yard TD run, and K Noah Burnette added 6 points off 2 Field Goals. The Panthers would add 7 more on a 100-yard kick-off return by Kenny Johnson, but that was as close as the Panthers would get.

Many Pitt fans and media outlets had been asking for a QB change, and they got their wish, just not in the manner that they expected, as Jurkovec was injured at the end of the first half and did not return the rest of the game. Enter backup Christian Veilleux, who finished the game 7-18 for 85 yards and an interception. He also caused a second turnover when his handoff to Hammond resulted in a fumble recovery.

“I wish he would’ve got four quarters,” Narduzzi said of Jurkovec.

The Panthers are now 1-3 (0-1 ACC), their worst start under Narduzzi since 2017, when they would finish 5-7 (3-5 ACC). Narduzzi pledges to the fans that his Panthers will fare better than that as they will travel to Blacksburg, VA, next Saturday to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (1-3, 0-0 ACC)

“I wish we could’ve got this win, especially for them. But we will be back.”-Said Narduzzi.

Notes: Friday night, A star-studded group of Pitt greats were officially inducted into the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame:

Richard Bradshaw (Swimming and Diving Coach)

Ruben Brown (Football)

Matt Cavanaugh (Football)

Chris Doleman (Football; Posthumous)

Larry Fitzgerald (Football)

Keith Gavin (Wrestling)

Bobby Lewis (Baseball Coach; Posthumous)

Joe Luxbacher (Men’s Soccer Student-Athlete and Coach)

Maureen McCandless (Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country)

Suzanne Pulley-Klacik (Women’s Swimming)

Clive ‘Clyde’ Vaughan (Men’s Basketball)

Allison Williams-Murphy (Women’s Track and Field)

 

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