Strong second half propels Pitt past L'Ville

Pittsburgh broke open a close game against Louisville with touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half Saturday afternoon. The Panthers downed the Cardinals 20-3 to remain atop the Big East standings.

Pittsburgh broke up a close game against Louisville with touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half Saturday at Heinz Field to improve their record to 3-0 in the Big East.

The Panthers led the Cardinals 6-3 at halftime, but took command in the second half with touchdowns from running bakcs Ray Graham and Dion Lewis. Pitt took advantage of Adam Froman fumble late in the third quarter to break open a 10-point game.

Pittsburgh scored the game's first touchdown on the opening possession after halftime. The Panthers drove 71 yards, converting three first downs before Ray Graham broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run to give Pitt a 13-3 lead.

Bilal Powell, the Big East's leading rusher, left the game with an apparent knee injury on Louisville's first possession of the second half. Powell went down after hurdling a Panther defender and didn't return to the game.

Without Powell, Louisville drove to the Pitt 38, where they faced a key third down and seven. But Adam Froman fumbled on a tough hit by Jabaal Sheard, and Myles Caragein picked up the ball and returned the fumble to the Louisville 5 yard line. Three plays later, Dion Lewis scored from one yard to give Pittsburgh a 20-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.


Jeremy Wright sparked Louisville with a long kick-off return after Lewis' touchdown. A late hit out of bounds on the return gave the Cardinals possession inside the Panther 25.

After a holding call against Pittsburgh gave Louisville a first down at the Pitt 10, two runs by Wright set the Cardinals up inside the 5, but Byron Stingily was called for illegal procedure on third down. On third and goal at the nine, Froman was stopped for a loss setting up a short Chris Philpott field goal attempt. But Philpott missed from 30 yards, ending the Cards scoring threat.

The real story Saturday, though, was Pittsburgh's strong defense. The Panthers held Louisville to under 200 total yards, and forced Froman into his worst game this season.

Louisville's senior quarterback completed just 13 of 23 passes for 82 yards and also committed two turnovers, including an interception late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Panthers.

The first half featured no touchdowns by either team as Pittsburgh took a 6-3 halftime lead.

Louisville opened the scoring on their first drive of the game. After driving all the way to the Pitt 18, Louisville's offense stalled again in the red zone. The Cardinals had to settle for 35-yard Chris Philpott field goal for a 3-0 lead with 6:13 in the first quarter.

Pittsburgh responded on their next possession, driving to the Louisville 9 on several tough runs by running back Dion Lewis before settling for Dan Hutchins 26-yard field goal.

The Panther took a 6-3 on their next possession when Hutchins connected on his second field goal from 42 yards. Pittsburgh drove 45 yards in 12 plays, but couldn't punch the end zone despite reaching the Louisville 20. Tino Sunseri fumbled the snap on second down at the 20, then threw his pass away on third down after receiving pressure from defensive end William Savoy.

Pittsburgh threatened to extend their lead late in the second quarter, but Louisville corner Darius Ashley broke up Sunseri's third down pass in the end zone, and Hutchins missed a 28-yard field goal attempt wide left.

Louisville plays at Syracuse next week.


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