Bennett Shines In Blue-Gold Scrimmage

In addition to Isaac Bennett's 121 yards on the ground, E.J. Banks and Corey Davis add 69 and 42 yards on the ground, respectively.

Isaac Bennett ended his impressive spring by rushing for 121 yards during Pitt's Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday.

His most notable run game early in the scrimmage when he broke free for 51 yards, moving the offense into the red zone. It's the fourth time he's picked up more than 50 yards on a carry this spring, scoring a touchdown on the other three runs.

However, Bennett was hesitant to take all the credit for his performance.

"My line and fullback were blocking great," Bennett said. "Everybody was working together, so they allowed that to happen."

Bennett carried the load at running back during spring practice with Ray Graham out with an injury and incoming freshman Rushel Shell not yet on campus.

"He's young," Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said of Bennett. "He had the chance to learn a lot and grow. Each scrimmage, at least the last three or four times we've gone pretty hard, he's done some things that have been good."

While the running game excelled, the passing game continued to struggle on Saturday. While the receivers managed to get open, the quarterbacks couldn't consistently hit their marks for most of the afternoon, and starter Tino Sunseri overthrew Drew Carswell twice on the first drive of the game before Kevin Harper missed a 39-yard field goal.

"I think that guys were running open," Sunseri said. "You just have to put the ball into people, people have to understand certain route depths and we just have to keep on competing."

Sunseri pointed to the positives of the offense's stalling drives, saying that the team is moving the football, even if it doesn't always lead to a touchdown.

"Guys are getting open, we're making the right reads, we're making the right adjustments," he said. "It's just finishing plays."

Chryst also commented on the team not finishing plays, as well as the issues with fumbled snaps and false starts.

"There are moments you have to clean up," he said. "There are mistakes you have to eliminate, but I think we're working. There's areas that we're getting better — not where we want to be by any means, but it was a productive spring."

Sunseri finished 13-27 for 147 yards with one interception and a touchdown. Myers finished with the most yardage of any of the quarterbacks, recording167 yards and completing 10-16 passes. Trey Anderson and Anthony Gonzalez threw for 47 and 25 yards, respectively.

Sunseri's longest completed pass went for 32 yards.

Chryst didn't format the spring game — held at North Hills' Martorelli Stadium in front of 4,607 spectators— much like a game. Instead, the offense and defense squared off in a number of different situations with the offense beginning its drives anywhere from the defense's one-yard line to inside its own 20-yard line.

The group looked good when driving from the red zone, scoring a touchdown on almost every snap, but tended to struggle more with the long field.

Sunseri's threw one touchdown pass, finding Ronald Jones for a three-yard dash into the end zone. Backup quarterback Mark Myers recorded the only other passing touchdown for the Panthers, finding Brandon Ifill for a 58-yard score.

The offensive line — which has shown improvement through spring practice — continued to develop during the team's final scrimmage. The unit gave the quarterbacks time to throw and created holes for Bennett, as well as E.J. Banks and Corey Davis, who rushed for 69 and 42 yards, respectively.

Center Ryan Turnley, who won the Ed Conway award for most improved offensive player this spring said that the offensive line has gotten better at consistently protecting the passer.

"Not having four guys do it and one guy come free," he said. "You have to have all five guys, and I think that on a more consistent basis we have five guys in unison."

The line picked up several false start penalties, a problem that has appeared several times during spring practice, but Turnley said the issue on Saturday didn't stem from anyone jumping on the wrong count.

"It was just a couple guys getting antsy, that's all," he said.

Much like the rest of spring practice, the defense remained a step ahead of the offense and continues to look like a unit that will give opponents trouble this season.

Andrew Taglianetti recorded the game's only interception, picking off Sunseri and running the ball back 30 yards for a touchdown. He also deflected a pass late in the scrimmage. Devin Cook and Aaron Donald each finished with two sacks, while T.J. Clemmings, Keegan Buck, Lloyd Carrington, Jason Frimpong and LaQuentin Smith all picked up one sack.

Kevin Harper hit two 47-yard field goals, as well as field goals from 25 and 24 yards. He missed a 41-yard field goal. Drake Greer kicked a field goal from 38-yards both. Both Harper and Greer went 2-2 on extra points.

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