Panthers drop big loss to the Mountaineers

The Panthers lost a 52-31 shootout to the Mountaineers Saturday night in Morgantown. Despite the incredible 9 catch, 185 yards and 2 touchdown performance by Larry Fitzgerald, the Panthers could not keep up with the Mountaineers because of a poor performance on defense and a second half filled with turnovers and penalties.

The first half was a back and forth battle. West Virginia was doing their damage on the ground and through the air and Pittsburgh was doing it almost exclusively through the air. Neither team seemed to be able to slow the other down, let alone stop them. With Pitt up 24-17 just before half, the WVU offense blew down the field for the tying score on a 28-yard Rasheed Marshall to John Pennington TD pass.

With the score tied 24-24 at the half, the Panthers took the 2nd half kickoff and raced to the WVU 5 yard line. That possession ended with a Grant Wiley interception in the end zone and the momentum swung in the Mountaineers' favor.

The Panthers were fantastic on offense in the first half, but had a meltdown in a 2nd half that was filled with turnovers and penalties. WVU pounded Pitt with their running game in the second half and the Panthers defense just didn't have any answers. It didn't help that the offense turned the ball over 3 times and kept putting them in bad field position.

WVU had an outstanding performance from running back Quincy Wilson who rushed for 208 yards and 4 TD's on 34 carries. Wilson is a tough, physical runner who excels at breaking tackles. The Panthers defense had few answers for him all night. WVU QB Rasheed Marshall played a solid game that was enough to give the Mountaineers a balanced offense. He finished 14 of 23 for 216 yards and 2 TD's. Miquelle Henderson was the leading WVU receiver as he finished with 5 catches for 63 yards and 1 TD.

Rod Rutherford finished with 25 of 47 for 419 yards and 4 TD's, but his 3 interceptions proved costly. Rutherford did not have the benefit of a running game; the Panthers finished with only 10 net yards rushing after the sack yardage was figured in.

The Panthers had several other impressive performances in the passing game besides Fitzgerald. Kris Wilson had 4 catches for 46 yards and 2 TD's. He made a leaping 17-yard TD catch and held on despite taking a hard hit from a Mountaineer defender. True freshman Greg Lee also had a strong game as he finished with 3 catches for 81 yards. Princell Brockenbrough had a chance to break the game open in the first half when he got wide open, but he dropped a perfect pass from Rutherford. Brockenbrough finished with 3 catches for 57 yards.

A terrific performance by true freshman Terrell Allen should not go unnoticed as he returned 6 kickoffs for 187 yards with a long of 53 yards.

The Panthers travel to take on Temple next Saturday. Temple is coming off of a 24-23 overtime loss to Virginia Tech.

Brian Gold

Panther More Top Stories