Pitt knocks off Rutgers 42-32

The Panthers jumped out to a 42-7 halftime lead then withstood a second half comeback by Rutgers to improve to 4-2 on the season. Rod Rutherford completed 22 of 38 passes for 381 yards and 3 TD's, plus he added a rushing TD to lead the Panthers to a win in their first Big East game of the season.

Larry Fitzgerald had another spectacular game as he finished with 8 catches for 207 yards and 2 TD's. If he makes a TD catch against Syracuse next Saturday, he will tie the All-time NCAA consecutive game TD receiving record (13), which is held by Charles Rogers of Michigan State. Tight End Kris Wilson also had an outstanding game as he finished with 9 catches for 110 yards and 1 TD. Pitt was once again without the services of starting RB Brandon Miree who continues to struggle with a leg injury. Jawan Walker led Pitt's rushing attack with 81 yards on 16 carries and 2 TD's. He scored his first two TD's as a Panther with TD runs of 6 and 55 yards.

The Panthers jumped out to a 42-7 halftime lead after dominating both sides of the ball in the first half. They almost shut it down too soon as Rutgers made a furious second half comeback attempt that was too little to late. The Pitt offense was shut out in the second half for the second week in a row. The Panther defense struggled in the second half but came up with two key interceptions by William Ferguson and Tez Morris to seal the victory.

The Scarlet Knights showed a lot of heart by not giving up after the first half pounding and fighting till the end. QB Ryan Hart led Rutgers on offense. Hart finished 27 of 52 for 380 and 2 TD's. He also threw 2 costly INT's. His favorite target was Shawn Tucker who almost matched Fitzgerald with 9 catches for 186 yards. Rutgers starting RB Justise Hairston was knocked out of the game with a knee injury and Brian Leonard took over and finished with 17 carries for 79 yards and 2 TD's.

The Panthers did show improvement by cutting their penalty yardage down and they only committed one turnover on a bad snap. They also had more balance on offense as Rutherford, Fitzgerald, Wilson, and Walker took turns making big plays in the first half. Still, the second half meltdown on offense for the second consecutive week and the defense's failure to shut down time consuming scoring drives needs to be resolved in a hurry.

Next up for the Panthers will be the Syracuse Orangemen, this Saturday at Heinz Field for homecoming. Syracuse (4-2, 1-1) is coming off an impressive 39-14 victory over Boston College. If the Panthers have any hopes of winning that game, they will need to put together 4 quarters of solid football for the first time this season.

Brian Gold
PittInsiders.com


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