Pitt defeats Temple 30-16

The Panthers got a terrific 188-yard, 2-TD performance from running back Brandon Miree to set up a showdown with the Miami Hurricanes next Saturday on national TV. The winner will get at least a share of the conference title and a probable BCS berth in the Orange Bowl. Miree has been out of action since the third game of the season because of a leg injury, but he delivered an outstanding comeback performance to lead the Panthers over the Owls.

Miree did it all Saturday. He broke a 73-yard run without his shoe, and he also came through on a game-deciding 4th and 1 play that saw him pick up the first down on an outside pitch. All season long the Panthers have missed a balanced attack on offense due to a lack of a running game. Miree gives the coaching staff confidence that he can pick up the yardage on key 3rd and 4th down plays.

Miree scored the first two touchdowns of the game with runs of 7 and 2 yards and he would keep the Owls defense off balance all day. He made the play of the day when Pitt went for it on a 4th and 1 call at the Panthers 45 yard line. At the time, Pitt was clinging to a 21-16 lead and if they would have turned the ball over on downs, it may have cost them the game. QB Rod Rutherford audibled out of a QB sneak and called a toss sweep that Miree executed perfectly as he picked up the tough yardage.

Rutherford struggled for much of the game as he finished only 10 of 22 for 147 yards, 2 TD's and 1 interception. He was able to find his favorite target often enough as Larry Fitzgerald had another amazing performance. Fitzgerald finished with 7 catches for 102 yards and 2 TD's. He made several circus-like catches once again where he was double and triple covered. Fitzgerald once again showed why he is such a complete player with two monster blocks in the second half that leveled Owls defenders to open up running lanes for his teammates.

Temple was led by QB Walter Washington who was as good as advertised. He finished 24 of 40 for 278 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He also added 72 yards rushing and 1 TD on 26 carries. Listed at 6-3, 246 pounds, he gave the Panthers defense all they could handle. His top receiver was Zamir Cobb, who finished with 9 catches for 97 yards. Cobb is the 2nd leading receiver in the Big East to Fitzgerald.

Pitt was led on defense by Lewis Moore's two and half sacks and Corey Humphrie's game-high 11 tackles. Linebacker Malcom Postell ended the scoring with a safety on a hard hit on Owls QB Washington that jarred the ball loose.

Next up for the 21st ranked Panthers (8-3, 5-1) is a showdown with 10th ranked Miami (9-2, 5-1) at Heinz Field Saturday. The game will be televised by ABC.

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