Pitt blitzes UofL with strong second half

Louisville (1-3, 0-1) led Pittsburgh 10-7 at intermission. The Panthers (4-1, 1-0), though, rolled in the second half, beating the Cardinals 35-10 to hand Louisville their eighth loss in the last nine games.

Louisville's Big East opener was deemed a "blackout," but by the end the empty red seats far outnumbered the fans in black shirts at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

That's because Pittsburgh blitzed the Cardinals in the second half, outscoring them 28-0, for a 35-10 win in front of 39,948 fans (most of whom weren't around for the final horn) at PJCS and a national television audience. The loss, UofL's eighth straight to Football Bowl Subdivision schools dating back to last season, spoiled the debut of Adam Froman at quarterback.

Behind Froman the Cards (1-3, 0-1) took a 10-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, but in the second half it was Friday night lights out for UofL.

"We're a play or two away from being the kind of team we want to be, but we're not getting it done right now," said UofL coach Steve Kragthorpe, whose team was outgained 266-134 in total offense in the second half and 404-305 for the game.

And it was two big Pitt plays that turned the tide to the Panthers. The first was a 37-yard touchdown pass from Bill Stull to Dorin Dickerson on Pitt's first possession of the second half, then a 71-yard pass play from Stull to Jonathan Baldwin following a Froman fumble midway through the third quarter that primarily propelled Pitt to its first win in Louisville since 1983.

"We didn't come out and execute good enough," Froman said. "We didn't come out and convert on third down like we needed to. We just didn't get it done tonight."

Froman, the junior college transfer from California who made his UofL debut at Utah on special teams, started in place of Justin Burke at quarterback. Burke, the Cards' starter in their first three games, suffered a bruised sternum in last Saturday's loss at Utah that kept him out of Monday's practice and forced him into limited action on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It was really a game-time decision," Kragthorpe said. "I just didn't feel like today (Burke) was in a position where he could go out and protect himself. He's one hit away, I talked to the doctors, of it being a pretty significant injury."

Froman finished 18 of 30 for 166 yards with no touchdown or interceptions and eight rushing yards, and the aforementioned fumble, on 16 carries.

Louisville lost their sixth straight Big East contest.
"Obviously (I was) not good enough, because we didn't get a win," Froman said.

Froman completed passes to nine different receiver, but UofL's longest completion of the game was from one wide receiver (Doug Beaumont) to another (Josh Chichester) that set up the Cards' only TD in the first quarter.

But the loss wasn't necessarily Froman's fault. He was sacked six times by Pitt (4-1, 1-0), which came in fourth nationally with four per game, and under duress almost the entire second half.

"He did some good things with his feet and made some nice throws," Kragthorpe said.

Froman's first series end in a punt, but his second ended in pay dirt for Louisville. However, it didn't come without some trickery.

On first-and-10 from the 27 Beaumont took a reverse pitch from Froman, then threw to a wide open Chichester for a 38-yard gain. Back-to-back runs by Victor Anderson got UofL into the redzone, before the Cards punched it into the end zone on Joe Tronzo's 1-yard dive against a Pitt defense that came in seventh in the eight-team Big East in total defense (351.8 yards per game).

But the Panthers, who beat UofL 41-7 last year, quickly answered. Pitt drove downfield - helped by two personal foul penalties against the Cards (on linebacker Chris Campa and cornerback Johnny Patrick) - and tied the game when Dickerson snared a 5-yard touchdown toss from Bill Stull. The pass had been intended for, and was deflected by, Cedric McGee, but Dickerson was there to corral the rebound.

Froman led Louisville on an 11-play, 69-yard drive, that Ryan Payne capped with a 32-yard field goal, to give the Cards a 10-7 lead at halftime.

The second half was pretty much all Pitt.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff of the second half20and needed only eight plays to go 75 yards, most of which came when Stull found Dickerson for a 37-yard TD, when safety Richard Ragland got caught looking the wrong way, with 10:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Louisville looked like it was going to answer, driving into Pitt territory. But on third-and-8 from the Panthers' 31 Froman, trying to run for the first down, had the ball knocked out of his hands by nose tackle Myles Caragein and recovered by fellow defensive lineman Gus Mustakas.

The Panthers quickly converted that turnover into points as, on the ensuing play, Stull connected with Baldwin for a 71-yard score.

Pitt added some insurance with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns runs - a 5-yarder by Ray Graham and a 3-yarder by Henry Hynoski.

Anderson led Louisville with 12 carries for 51 yards and also had four receptions for 24 yards. Chichester finished with three catches for 55 yards, while Scott Long added three receptions for 46 yards.

Pitt freshman running back Dion Lewis, who entered fifth in FBS in rushing (123.25 yards per game), gained 87 yards on 21 carries. Stull was 16-for-23 for 242 yards and three TDs, while Baldwin had four receptions for 105 yards.

UofL linebacker Jon Dempsey, who entered leading the Big East in tackles (11.3 per game), recorded nine solo stops against the Panthers.

Louisville next hosts Southern Mississippi at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in20its homecoming.

Afterward Kragthorpe was non-committal on which quarterback would be under center for that game.

"The good thing is that we have two guys that can play, so I really feel good about that," the third-year coach said. "Adam proved tonight that he can play and Justin proved in the first three games of the year that he can be a very capable quarterback as well, so I‘m not as concerned about the play at quarter as I am the play in the secondary."

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