Pitt falls to Notre Dame 20-14

The Pitt offense couldn't handle the smothering Notre Dame defense and Pitt fell to 3-2 on the season. Heisman Trophy candidate Larry Fitzgerald finished with 5 catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns and extended his touchdown reception streak to 11 games, but he was all the offense that Pitt could muster.

Notre Dame used a pounding rushing attack led by the sensational Julius Jones, who finished with 262 yards on 24 carries. The Irish were better on both the offensive and defensive lines and that was the story of the game. The Pittsburgh defense did produce many outstanding stops on 3rd and 4th downs to keep giving the ball back to the Panther offense, but they were not able to take advantage of the opportunities.

Jawan Walker, starting in place of injured Brandon Miree for the second week in a row, was held to 37 yards on 10 carries. David Abdul missed field goal attempts of 38 and 48 yards and the Panther offense had three fumbles, losing two of them that led to 10 points for the Irish.

William Ferguson fumbled a punt early in the first quarter and Notre Dame capitalized on the recovery with a touchdown shortly after on a 25-yard run by Jones. Ferguson redeemed himself by breaking a 71-yard punt return to set up a second Panther touchdown in the second quarter and their final score of the evening. A Rutherford fumble at the Pitt 8-yard line late in the second half led to a field goal D.J. Fitzpatrick and that would be all it would take offensively for Notre Dame to win the game.

Rod Rutherford finished 13 of 30 for 167 yards and two TD's. As many as 6 of his passes were dropped, but he also was off target on several occasions. Princell Brockenbrough had several drops but finished with 3 catches for 61 yards. Irish QB Brady Quinn struggled the entire game going 5 of 17 for 33 yards and 1 interception. Notre Dame never had to depend on him though as the rushing game and pressure defense kept them in control of the game all night.

Next up for the Panthers is a trip to New Brunswick, NJ for the Big East opener against Rutgers. Rutgers is 3-3 on the season overall and 0-2 in conference play. Rutgers is coming off a 34-19 loss to West Virginia.

Brian Gold

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