Panthers crush Kent State 43-3

Pitt stands at 1-0 after defeating Kent State 43-3 in the home opener before 56,531 at Heinz Field. They did it with a high-powered offense and an aggressive defense. Pitt's defense held Kent State to 161 net yards while the offense registered 522 offensive yards with a well-balanced attack.

Luke Getsy started the game and played the first quarter, but Rod Rutherford was the star. Rutherford, who sat out the first quarter, came in the second quarter and threw a 20-yard TD pass to Princell Brockenbrough on his very first pass of the game. It was Brockenbrough's first catch as a Panther. Rod showed off his outstanding arm strength by firing lasers all night. He finished 17 of 25 for 288 yards with 4 TD's and no interceptions.

His favorite target, of course, was superstar Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald showed why the coaches have been saying he is a much better football player than he was a year ago. Fitzgerald displayed improved size, strength, speed, and yards after the catch. He finished with 6 catches for 123 yards and 3 TD's. Fitzgerald also set a Pitt record with his 7th consecutive TD catch in a game. The old record was 6 by Antonio Bryant.

Tight end Kris Wilson took advantage of the attention the Kent defense was giving to Fitzgerald. He was frequently open and finished with 3 catches for 75 yards. Brockenbrough finished with 3 catches for 58 yards and 1 TD. Brockenbrough showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit out of junior college. He displayed soft hands and was very physical when blocking for his teammates. Chris Curd also demonstrated why he should be a player to watch this year. He finished with 3 catches for 22 yards.

Brandon Miree's strong rushing attack also contributed to the Panthers' balanced offense. Miree broke tackle after tackle and also displayed some fine cutting ability. He finished with 113 yards on 21 carries with 1 TD.

Pittsburgh's defense took a series or two to settle down, but once they did they were dominating. They held Kent State star QB Joshua Cribbs to 11 of 22 for 86 yards with no TD's and 1 INT. Cribbs is better known for his rushing ability, but the defense held him in check and he finished with 43 yards on 15 carries as his team's leading rusher. So dominant was the Panthers defense that none of the Kent State receivers finished with over 20 yards receiving. The defense also added a safety in the 3rd quarter after Kent State was called for a holding penalty in the end zone.

Special teams were not to be left out of the action as safety Sam Bryant blocked a punt in the first half. Kicker David Abdul was perfect for the evening with 5 for 5 on extra points and 2 for 2 on field goals with a long of 47 yards.

The Panthers host Ball State (1-1) next Saturday. The Cardinals lost to Missouri 35-7 Saturday, after defeating Indiana State 31-7 in their opening game.

Brian Gold

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