Pitt Falls Into Early 17-0 Deficit, Loses To Miami 29-24 On Senior Day


Pat Narduzzi‘s Pitt Panthers were looking for win #9 this afternoon at Heinz Field.

It’ll have to wait until late December or early January in a bowl game, as there was a Hurricane Warning in Pittsburgh today.

Pitt started extremely slow, falling into a 17-0 first quarter deficit, and a 23-3 halftime margin.  It was a trend that we have seen against North Carolina and Notre Dame, as Pitt attempted a second half comeback but ran out of time.

Miami (8-4, 5-3 ACC) held on to knock off Pitt 29-24, dropping the Panthers to 8-4 and 6-2 in the ACC.  I would say that this was the worst loss of the season, since Pitt’s other three losses were to teams with a combined 32-2 record.

The Hurricanes improved to 4-1 under interim head coach Larry Scott, who replaced a fired Al Golden after Miami lost to No. 1 Clemson 58-0.

Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman could not get anything going in the first half, and he finished only 13 of 27 for 142 yards with one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and a costly interception in the first quarter.

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True freshman running back Darrin Hall recorded his first 100-yard rushing game of his career, finishing with 103 yards on 12 carries, including a 35-yard TD run.  Redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison was injured after carrying the ball 10 times for 37 yards.

In what may possibly be junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd‘s final home game as a Panther, he finished with 5 receptions for 70 yards and 3 rushes for 47 yards.  After the game, Boyd did not indicate an intent to go pro, and I don’t think he needs to answer that question yet.  Boyd wants to go out a winner at Pitt, and he’ll get his chance in the bowl game.  Then he can make his decision.

For Miami, quarterback Brad Kaaya completed 21 of 35 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown.  Joseph Yearby finished with 99 rushing yards on 22 carries, while Mark Walton caught 3 passes for 80 yards and Rashawn Scott caught 7 passes for 74 yards and a score.

In the beginning of the game, Pitt deferred, which turned out to be a mistake.  Miami went on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that lasted over 6 minutes, and was capped off by a Kaaya 1-yard TD run on 4th down and 1.

On Pitt’s first drive, Peterman was intercepted by Artie Burns on the Panthers second play of the possession, setting the Hurricanes up on Pitt’s 23-yard line.  Pitt held Miami to a field goal to make it 10-0.

On the next drive, Pitt countered and moved the ball, but a Chris Blewitt missed 48-yard field goal killed momentum.  After the missed field goal, Kaaya connected with Stacy Coley for 48 yards, and then Kaaya threw a 22-yard TD pass to Rashawn Scott to make it 17-0.

The 2-play, 42 second drive was an early dagger, putting Pitt into a big-time 17-0 hole.

Pat Narduzzi on his team’s slow start this afternoon: “If we start slow again, we have to find a way to get a jumpstart.  I might have to bring my jumper cables or something.”

In the second quarter, Miami kicker Michael Badgley made a 48-yard field goal to increase the lead to 20-0.  On Pitt’s next drive, the Panthers got to the Miami 8-yard line, but J.P. Holtz was unable to haul in a TD pass from Peterman, and Blewitt made the 25-yard field goal to put Pitt on the board.

Miami then ran a 17-play, 72-yard drive that ate up 5 minutes and resulted in a Badgley 23-yard field goal as the half expired.

In the third quarter, Darrin Hall flew into the end zone from 35 yards out to cut the lead to 23-10.

But Miami responded as Badgley made 45 and 29-yard field goals to extend the lead to 29-10 in the fourth quarter.

True freshman kick returner Quadree Henderson provided a spark, returning the ensuing kickoff 89 yards to the Miami 2-yard line, and Scott Orndoff hauled in a TD pass to make it a 29-16 game.  Peterman then rushed to convert the 2-point conversion to make it 29-18 with 6:34 to go.

Pitt then held Miami to a 3-and-out, as there was life, but on the next drive, Blewitt missed a 47-yard field goal to stall momentum.  Earlier in the drive, a Peterman illegal forward pass negated a completion that slowed the Panthers down.

Miami then went 3-and-out again, and Peterman hit Boyd for a 36-yard completion, and then he rushed for a 5-yard touchdown.  The two-point conversion was stopped as Boyd tried to rush into the end zone, making it 29-24.

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  • Pitt essentially ran out of time, unable to recover the onside kick.  Pitt got the ball with only 6 seconds to go, and their shot at replicating Miami’s 8-lateral TD finish at Duke was denied.

    One thing about this Pitt team is that they will not quit.  It is a testament to their coaching staff.  Pitt rallied late, as Miami may have let off the gas on defense.

    On defense, true freshman safety Jordan Whitehead continues to impress, and he finished the regular season with 99 tackles.  Only one Pitt Panther has recorded over 100+ tackles as a true freshman, and Jordan will likely join him when he plays in the bowl.

    Pitt was unable to sack Kaaya, as he escaped pressure.  At the game, I also noticed several holding calls by Miami that were not flagged.  One on Rori Blair was missed and resulted in a big 22-yard play for a first down.  Regardless, Pitt shot themselves in the foot early and couldn’t overcome the deficit.

    This loss certainly hurt, and I think that it could cost Pitt a better slot in a bowl game, such as those in Florida.  I really wanted to see the seniors, who have been through several head coaches, win their final home game on Senior Day.

    But if you were to tell me that Pitt would be 8-4 after losing ACC Player of the Year James Conner to a season-ending MCL tear, as well as a quarterback change from Chad Voytik to Nathan Peterman, I would take it.  It has been a successful first year for Narduzzi and staff, and I think Pitt will only get better.


    Next: Steelers: Previewing the 'Hawks

    Pitt and Miami will now await their bowl fates, whereas Clemson and North Carolina will play in the ACC Title game on December 5th in Charlotte.

    Going into the game, I figured Pitt had a chance at the Taxslayer, Russell Athletic, Sun, Music City, and Pinstripe Bowls.  We will likely find out where the Panthers are heading next weekend.

    Also, 2016 DE prospect Zack Gilbert is announcing his decision at 8PM tonight.  He will choose between Pitt and Virginia Tech.