Pitt leads Louisville 7-0 at halftime. Tino Sunseri has been efficient, completing 8-of-11 passes for 70 yards and has also scrambled 8 times for 39 yards. Pitt leads in the turnover department—getting an interception, while not turning it over. The Panthers have not committed a penalty in the half, while Louisville has committed four penalties for 46 yards—which has hurt them in certain spots of their drives.
Pitt marched down the field on the opening drive in just under six minutes, completed with an Isaac Bennett 1-yard touchdown run. Pitt looked as smooth as it had looked all year offense—converting 2-of-2 third down attempts. Both third downs were converted by Tino Sunseri running the ball, including an 8-yarder that got Pitt to the Louisville 1 yard-line. Sunseri also completed all four of his passes on the drive. Ronald Jones came on in the Wildcat formation. Interestingly, Jones didn't have a carry on the drive. The play he was in for, Louisville was completely sucked in by Jones simply being on the field. They bought, completely forgetting about Zach Brown—who gained 16 yards to the Louisville 14.
Louisville answered, moving the ball well against Pitt on its opening drive. Pitt couldn't get any pressure on freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He showed that on a 12-yard run where no Pitt defenders were in sight. He got the ball to the Pitt 35. Two plays later, however, Bridgewater was picked off by Carl Fleming who was by himself, in perfect position just waiting for the ball. Pitt took over with 4:42 left in the first quarter, up 7-0. Fleming was making the start in place of Todd Thomas, who was bothered by a neck injury. Thomas did return to the field late in the second quarter.
Despite getting the turnover, Pitt was forced to punt after eight plays. They marched into Louisville to the Cards' 44 yard-line before sputtering. Louisville was getting more pressure on Sunseri, and the offense lost its sync on the last three plays of the drive. Matt Yoklic's 44-yard punt went out of the end zone. Pitt led 7-0 after the first quarter.
Louisville kept shooting itself in the foot. A chop block pinned the Cardinals deep in their own territory on their next series. Louisville tried to open the short passing game—something defensive coordinator Keith Patterson felt would be a challenge this week. Chas Alecxih broke through the line to drop running back Victor Anderson for a loss of three, after Anderson caught a screen pass. Bridgewater nearly bailed the Cardinals out—scrambling for 26 yards on a 3rd-and-32. Andrew Taglianetti made the saving tackle, forcing the Cardinals to punt.
In a bizarre sequence, Mark Myers entered the game on a 4-and-1 on Pitt's following series. It looked like it was an attempt to catch Louisville off-guard, and maybe let Myers take a chance on a deep ball (with the ball at the Louisville 42), have Myers pooch punt it, or try to draw them offsides. Well, nothing happened. Pitt had to call timeout in order to avoid getting penalized for a delay of game. After the long timeout, Matt Yoklic came in to punt, which was mishandled by Eli Rogers on the return, but he held on.
Louisville got the ball going—and even escaped the depths of a 1st-and-25, after an illegal block on a 15-yard pass from Bridgewater to Dominique Brown. Bridgewater found that short-yardage passing game, turning screens into a couple of big gains. However, on a 3rd-and-2 situation, freshman Khaynin Mosley-Smith stopped Victor Anderson for no gain.
Pitt took over at its own 15, and got the ball moving on the ground pretty well. Sunseri took off an a 11-yard run, out of a read option. The defense bought in to it, as two defenders wrapped up Bennett on the play. Bennett scampered for a gain of 20 yards, as it looked like the Panthers would score right before the half. Unfortunately, the one time Sunseri held the ball too long in the entire half, Louisville made him pay with its first sack of the game.
Pitt still took a 7-0 lead in to the locker room at halftime.