Nine Pittsburgh players made their first career start against EMU. They were fifth-year senior center Chris Vangas, sophomore right tackle Jason Pinkston, junior quarterback Bill Stull, redshirt junior wideout Marcel Pestano, redshirt junior outside linebacker Adam Gunn, redshirt junior middle linebacker Scott McKillop, redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Shane Murray, redshirt freshman cornerback Ricky Gary and redshirt sophomore tight end John Pelusi, who opened in a double-tight formation with sophomore Nate Byham (who did the same in last year's opener with Darrell Strong).
Redshirt sophomore running back Shane Brooks recorded his first two rushing touchdowns, a pair of one-yard plunges, and Gary had his first INT.
Pitt's three tight ends all had three catches each. Pelusi's were the first of his career. He had 20 receiving yards.
Redshirt freshman Kevan Smith, who played in the fourth quarter when Stull was hurt, was 2-for-4 for 18 yards in his first collegiate game.
Sophomore Jovani Chappel was a demon on special teams with a career-high four solo tackles, and junior Gus Mustakas had five solo stops to set a career mark for himself as well.
Punter Dave Brytus, who kicked off for Pitt, was short most of the game, and EMU took advantage with a couple long returns. Place-kicker Conor Lee replaced him in the fourth quarter on kickoffs. Brytus was solid as a punter with a 45.4-yard average and long kick of 56 yards.
Pitt's defense held EMU to 145 total yards, the fewest in an opener since 1989 for the Panthers, who gave up 140 to Pacific that year. Pitt surrendered just 39 rushing yards to EMU with a 1.7-yard average.
The Panthers have won 10 of 11 season-openers and are 26-6 in first games since 1976 with a 25-2 mark against the Mid-American Conference. Both losses were on the road. Pitt is 8-0 against the MAC in openers.
The Panthers are 2-0 against EMU with a 66-30 thrashing in 1995 the only other matchup.
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