With what seemed to be the ESPN curse affecting them, the Pittsburgh Panthers faced the Syracuse Orange and lost 14-13, unable to execute on their final drive.
It appeared that the curse would continue in the first quarter. The Panthers lost yards on their first drive, punting the ball away.
The Orange used their unorthodox offense to drive quickly down the field. It resulted in a 1-yard run from Adonis Ameen-Moore, giving the Orange a 7-0 lead.
Kevin Harper’s kicking struggles continued when he missed a long field goal.
Later in the quarter, the Orange defense forced Pitt wide receiver Drew Carswell to fumble the football and Dyshawn Davis returned the fumble 52 yards to put the Panthers in a 14-0 hole at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers would respond with a solid drive that resulted in a Ray Graham 1-yard touchdown, cutting the lead in half.
The Orange then responded with what looked to be a score; however, quarterback Ryan Nassib was intercepted by K’Wuan Williams in the end zone, waking up the Panther defense.
Right before the half, the Panthers added a 40=yard Harper field goal to make the score 14-10 in favor of the Orange heading into the half.
In the third quarter, the tone of the game changed and it became a more defensive oriented game.
The Pitt duo of Aaron Donald and Tyrone Ezell came alive. Donald got his first sack of the season, and just his presence on the field allowed for Ezell to pressure Nassib and frustrate the Syracuse offense.
The Panthers were able to put a drive together near the end of the third quarter. Under pressure, Sunseri completed a 46-yard pass to Mike Shanahan who came back to catch the ball. Had Sunseri not been hit, the throw likely would have resulted in a touchdown. Harper then made a 27-yard field goal to cut the Orange lead to 14-13.
Still a chess game, the Panthers had a chance to take the lead in the middle stages of the fourth quarter but missed out due to a Sunseri intentional grounding.
To ensure the victory, Syracuse effectively controlled the clock and got two first downs, forcing the Panthers to burn their timeouts. Ameen-Moore created two first downs via the rush and sealed Pitt’s loss.
The victory put Syracuse at 2-3 on the season; the Panthers loss gave them the same record. The Panthers are 0-2 in Big East play.
Game ball: Devin Street – 10 catches, 130 yards. He set a career high for receptions and with Mike Shanahan largely held in check, Street was the number one option.
Catch of the game: Mike Shanahan’s 46-yard reception. Sunseri was hit as he threw the ball and Shanahan had to stop his route and move forward to catch that ball and then he got yards after the catch. It led to a field goal.
Goat: Drew Carswell’s fumble led to an Orange touchdown that could have been avoided, a potential 14-point swing. Then, following a costly Sunseri intentional grounding in the fourth quarter, a checkdown to Carswell was dropped as he lost focus, further costing the team a field goal opportunity.
Tino Sunseri Line: 25 for 33, 319 yards. Nassib and Sunseri were Nos. 1 and 2 in passing in the Big East and Sunseri outperformed his counterpart. Sunseri’s intentional grounding prevented the Panthers from getting a leading field goal and sealed their fate.
Up next: The Panthers play their homecoming game against the Louisville Cardinals. The game will be Saturday, Oct. 13 at Heinz Field with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m. The Panthers will once again be looking for their first Big East victory.
Pitt vs Syracuse Scoring 10/5
Cuse: Ameen-Moore 1 yard run [Krautman kick good] 7-0 9:54
Cuse: Davis 52 yard fumble recovery [Krautman kick good] 14-0 1:06
Pitt: Graham 1 yard run [Harper kick good] 14-7 10:41
Pitt: Harper 40 yard field goal 14-10 0:22
Pitt: Harper 27 yard field goal 14-13 1:57