Sophomore running back James Conner rolled over a normally stingy FIU run defense for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. He now has 544 rushing yards, breaking Tony Dorsett's school record for most rushing yards in the first three games of a season in the process. That was set back in 1973 in Dorsett's freshman year.
Quarterback Chad Voytik rushed for 126 yards on 12 carries and had a 32-yard touchdown run for the Panthers, who host Iowa next week. He also completed 9-of-17 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown, an 18-yarder to Tyler Boyd in the second quarter.
FIU (1-2) led 16-0 in the first quarter but gave up two touchdowns in the second, leading by just two points at the break. The Golden Panthers fell behind for good after a 3-yard TD run by Conner with 7:15 left in the third quarter.
T.J. Lowder reeled in a deflection of an Alex McGough pass intended for FIU tight end Jonnu Smith and rambled 33 yards to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by McGough for a 9-0 lead. McGough followed that up with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Glenn Coleman.
Conner, Voytik and the Panthers offense settled down from there and scored 26 unanswered points, overcoming the distraction of a 30-minute lightning delay in the second half to put the game away. It was Conner's 41-yard touchdown run on a 4th-and-1 with 4:49 remaining that erased any doubt, and he added an 11-yarder three minutes later after FIU had cut the lead to 10 points.
There were three safeties in the game, two by FIU, and a combined total of four turnovers. Conner lost two fumbles deep in FIU territory when it appeared that Pitt was about to put more points on the board but rebounded to come up with another strong performance on the ground.
Pitt has rushed for more than 300 yards in three straight games and leads the ACC in that category. The Panthers outgained FIU overall, 422-293, and held the ball longer by a 35:55-24:05 margin.
Pitt's defense sacked FIU's quarterbacks four times, getting to McGough three times and forcing a fumble. The pass rush also caused the second safety as defensive tackle Rori Blair was in the face of the Golden Panthers' other quarterback, E.J. Hilliard, in the end zone, forcing him to throw it away for an intentional grounding penalty.