Panthers’ fourth-down mistake leads to home loss to Louisville


October 13, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Devin Street (15) runs after a pass reception against Louisville Cardinals cornerback Adrian Bushell (21) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

What looked to be a toss-up in terms of the outcome quickly became Louisville’s ballgame as they remained undefeated, winning 45-28 over the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Pitt started the game with the football and in their first drive they were a completely different football team. From Devin Street’s 21-yard reception on the opening play to Cameron Saddler’s impressive 7-yard touchdown reception, the Panthers were firing on all cylinders in a drive that took just over four minutes to complete.

On Pitt’s first drive Devin Street passed Jake Hoffart for 14th place on the Panthers’ all-time reception list.

Louisville’s first drive, albeit longer, was just as effective as they kept moving the Panthers defense backward. A 6-yard touchdown run tied the game.

The Panthers had a short field after a 15-yard pass interference penalty on Louisville however the drive stalled and kicker Kevin Harper’s 50-yard field fell short.

The game was tied 7-7 after one quarter.

To open the second quarter, Todd Thomas made his first appearance of the season and blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown bringing the crowd to their feet.

Louisville again put together an impressive first drive to start the second quarter capped off by a Jeremy Wright four yard touchdown. The key play was a 31 yard pass from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on a third and long.

The Panthers next drive was aided by Rushel Shell who showed gritty running including a 19 yard run that he used the left side of the football field to obtain. He would later punch it in from two yards out, giving the Panthers the lead once again.

The Panthers defense made a huge stand in the next drive. The Cardinals started their drive on their own eight yard line. The Panthers got a sack on their third down play and forced Louisville to punt from the back of their own end zone.

An illegal block in the back negated great starting field position for the Panthers.

This led to an important decision on a fourth and two. Head Coach Paul Chryst decided to go for it on the run and it backfired. Louisville had a fourth down of their own they converted and their kicker John Wallace made a 45 yard kick to cut the Panther lead to four points at the half.

Louisville came out aggressive in the third quarter. On the first play of the half, Bridgewater threw a 75 yard pass – the longest in his career to DeVante Parker, who made the longest catch of his career. This gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game.

Pitt’s offense was stopped and Matt Yoklic’s punt was blocked. Louisville then pieced together another drive which resulted in a touchdown run for Senorise Perry, his second of the game.

The Panthers fell apart on their drive and Yoklic dropped the snap and was sacked, meaning the Cardinals would take over on the Pitt 18.

Louisville continued to run the score up and Perry got his third touchdown this time from one yard out.

The Panthers did not give in despite the deficit and scored when Tino Sunseri scored from a yard out on the quarterback sneak.

Following a three and out from Louisville, the Panthers had a chance to get back in the game. They used up a lot of the clock and on this fourth down, Sunseri overthrew Saddler ending the Panthers chances of competing in this game.

To add insult to injury Perry would score on a 59 yard run, bringing his touchdown count to four. Just by his scores, the Cardinals had enough points to tie the Panthers.

The Panthers played until the final whistle and Sunseri would find Street for a two yard pass to cut the Louisville lead to 10 with 40 seconds left.

Louisville took a couple of knees ending the game.

Game ball: It’s hard to give a game ball after a team fell so flat in the third quarter. I’ll give mine to Todd Thomas. He has an injured leg and he blocked a punt and has the ability to return it for a touchdown. That play excited the crowd more than any other.

Up next: The Panthers will visit Buffalo next Saturday at 3:30 with the game to be televised by the Big East Network.

They Said It:

Here is Head Coach Paul Chryst’s press conference in its entirety.

Pitt vs Louisville Scoring Recap

1st Quarter
Pitt– Saddler 7 yard pass from Sunseri (Harper kick good) 10:59 7-0
Louisville- Perry 6 yard run (Wallace kick good) 4:12 7-7

2nd Quarter
Pitt– Thomas fumble recovery on blocked putt (Harper kick good) 14:05 14-7
Louisville- Wright 4 yard run (Wallace kick good) 8:04 14-14
Pitt– Shell 2 yard run (Harper kick good) 3:00 21-14
Louisville- Wallace 45 yard field goal 0:02 21-17

3rd Quarter
Louisville- Parker 75 yard pass from Bridgewater (Wallace kick good) 14:49 24-21
Louisville- Perry 2 yard run (Wallace kick good) 10:42 31-21
Louisville- Perry 1 yard run (Wallace kick good) 4:00 37-21

4th quarter
Pitt– Sunseri 1 yard run (Harper kick good) 12:41 38-28
Louisville- Perry 59 yard run (Wallace kick good) 2:25 45-28
Pitt– Street 2 yard pass from Sunseri (Harper kick good) 0:40 45-35