Pittsburgh Panthers Team Report

Pittsburgh might have a one-dimensional offense -- at least in terms of production -- but the Panthers are for the most part making it work.<br><br> Now alone at the top of the Big East standings, the Panthers, 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference, unleashed a potent passing attack to defeat Boston College 24-13 Saturday.

The Panthers overcame a three-point halftime deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes -- one from TB Jawan Walker on a tailback option pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald that extended Fitzgerald's streak of games with a touchdown catch to an NCAA-record 14. The other was a screen from QB Rod Rutherford to Walker, who ran it in from 47 yards out.

Overall, the Panthers were 25-for-38 passing for 364 yards against Boston College. Rutherford, of course, accounted for the bulk of it with a 24-for-37 day that was good for 329 yards. He also netted 34 yards on the ground with 16 carries. Rutherford's performance just might have sewn up All-Big East honors for him.

The passing production helps make up for shortcomings in the running game. The Panthers have been struggling since RB Brandon Miree went to the sidelines with a stress fraction in his leg, but coach Walt Harris thinks they may have the answer at tailback with a combination of Walker and Tim Murphy. The Panthers haven't abandoned trying to run -- they rushed 45 times against the Eagles -- but they netted only 124 yards, or less than three yards an attempt.

Harris decided to go to the two-pronged approach after noting West Virginia's success with that style. Walker has good speed -- as evidenced by his 47-yard dash with the screen pass -- and Murphy has the toughness for the inside game. Walker ended up rushing for 36 yards, Murphy for 35.

Murphy got the start over fellow sophomore Walker. It was his first career start at tailback and his second overall career start, the other being at fullback last season. Besides his 35 yards rushing, Murphy contributed 39 yards on 3 receptions.

Fitzgerald ended the game with 7 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. Walker had 3 receptions for 54 yards.

With the victory, Pitt assumed command of the Big East race. The Panthers will have critical tests the next two games, starting Saturday when they are host to Virginia Tech. After that, they go to West Virginia on Nov. 15.

Victories in those two games would put them in a great position with a trip to Temple Nov. 22 and the home finale against Miami on Nov. 29.

"This is sweet. I've sat up here too many times wishing we had done this or done that. Today our players did it; they got it done," - Harris after the game.


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