Pitt leads UConn 21-3 at the half, but the Panthers are unable to enjoy the halftime lead much due to the loss of running back Ray Graham.
Graham went down on Pitt's fourth offensive play, also just his second carry of the game. He ran for a first down on his first carry of the game, then ran for a gain of a yard on that second carry. Graham landed awkwardly on his right knee. He was helped off by the team's training staff, then later taken to the locker room on a golf cart. His return for this game is doubtful, and no further prognosis has been given.
Tino Sunseri picked it up in Graham's absence. He led the Panthers on an eight-play drive that went 84 yards and lasted just 2:18. Sunseri rushed three times for 44 yards on that scoring drive, including an eight-yard rushing touchdown. Pitt led 7-0 just five minutes in.
After two punts, Pitt extended its lead to 14-0 just before halftime. Sunseri found a wide-open Mike Shanahan. Shanahan caught a ten-yard pass over the middle, then turned and still crossed the goal line; beating out two defenders converging on him. Pitt's second scoring drive went 62 yards in seven plays, and lasted just 2:56.
Pitt's defense also played a great first half, holding the Huskies to just three points and 80 total yards in 30 plays (2.7 yards per play). With the emphasis on turnovers each week, the Panthers didn't need any turnovers in the first half. The front seven brought consistent pressure, finishing with three sacks in the first half. The Panthers also had a good effort from its secondary. On one early play, the secondary even broke up a pass on itself when Antwuan Reed broke up an interception from Jarred Holley. Despite the mistake, it was a sign of the secondary flying to the ball. UConn quarterbacks collectively completed 2-of-13 passes.
Later in the half, K'Wauan Williams made a great pass breakup on intended UConn receiver Ryan Griffin at the goal line. Williams was in one-on-one coverage. Quarterback Johnny McEntee's pass was right there. Unfortunately for UConn, so was Williams as he tipped the ball the second it came in his vicinity. UConn had to settle for a field goal, which made it a 14-3 game with 7:17 left in the half.
Pitt started slipping towards the end of the half, as they lost a total of two yards on a three-and-out, gave up a sack and a holding penalty. It was Pitt's worst series of the half. UConn answered with a 36-yard punt return from Nick Williams—a season-long. That set the Huskies up at the Pitt 35.
Pitt added another touchdown later in the half on a three-yard touchdown run by Zach Brown. The key play of that drive was a 40-yard completion to Cameron Saddler, that set Pitt up at the three. Saddler took a short pass reception from Sunseri, then turned it up field. He got behind the next level of defenders before finally being gang-tackled at the UConn three.
Sunseri even got the ball inside the UConn 30 on Pitt's final series of the first half. The Panthers looked like they were going to add a fourth touchdown, before a pair of an incompletion and a sack ended any hopes to adding another score.
Sunseri had just under 300 yards of total offense in the half; completing 17-of-24 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown, and running another nine times for 31 yards and another touchdown. Zach Brown leads Pitt with seven receptions for 72 yards. Cameron Saddler added three catches for 66 yards.