Struggling Pitt Falls To Utah 26-14 For 2nd Straight Loss

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — It was another tough day for Pitt as the Utah Utes rolled into town and managed to roll past the Panthers 26-14 Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Pitt was looking to get back on track after struggling in their 34-10 loss at Rutgers last weekend, but the Panthers managed just 120 total yards and turned the ball over three times.

The reconfigured offensive line allowed quarterbacks Tino Sunseri and Trey Anderson to get sacked six times, and running back Ray Graham had a season-low 46 yards.

“Just [a] dismal performance and just embarrassing,” said Todd Graham, Pitt’s head coach, after the game. “Their defense is good but it’s not that good. We absolutely played terrible on offense.”

Meanwhile, the Utes may have been injury-riddled as they were playing without leading receiver DeVonte Christopher and quarterback Jordan Wynn, but they won by holding onto the ball.

John White ran for 171 yards and Coleman Petersen kicked four field goals in the tricky Heinz Field winds as Utah (3-3) snapped its own two-game losing streak and improved to 9-0 all-time against current members of the Big East.

Petersen, who’d made four field goals all year coming in, converted kicks of 23, 34, 39 and 45 yards in winds that gusted over 30 mph.

And Utah’s Derrick Shelby returned a late interception 21 yards for a touchdown as the Utes sent Pitt (3-4) to its second straight loss.

Quarterback Jon Hays completed 14 of 23 passes, 127 yards and a score without throwing an interception, though the game belonged to White, Petersen and Utah’s front seven.

White carried the ball 35 times, allowing Utah to hold the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Though the Utes had trouble finishing drives, Petersen found a way to deal with the swirling winds that ruffled officials’ pants and made throwing the ball nearly impossible.

Not that Sunseri or Anderson had time to throw. Pitt came in allowing 28 sacks on the season, easily the highest in the country.

Coach Todd Graham shuffled the line in hopes of providing some protection, moving Matt Rotheram to right tackle and Jordan Gibbs to center.

But it didn’t work. Sunseri and Anderson spent most of the day trying to scramble out of danger. When they did they combined to complete 9 of 30 passes for 50 yards.

Their inability to get anything going allowed the Utes to focus on Ray Graham, who came in averaging nearly 150 yards a game and was off to the best six-game start in the program’s history.

There were no holes to be had this time as the “high octane” offense Todd Graham promised when he took over in January fizzled for the second straight game.

Utah’s line wasn’t much better than Pitt’s, giving up seven sacks, but the Utes were able to move the ball enough to put Petersen in position to convert. He gave Utah the lead with a 39-yard kick in the third quarter then added a career-long 45 yarder in the fourth quarter to push Utah’s lead to 19-14.

The Panthers moved to the Utah 35 midway through the fourth quarter but Anderson threw incomplete on fourth down. It would be Pitt’s last chance. Anderson was intercepted twice in the final minutes, including a botched screen pass to Ray Graham that Shelby picked off and hustled down the sideline for the game-sealing touchdown with 1:12 to play.

Even with the offense sputtering, the Panthers took a 14-13 halftime lead behind a pair of spectacular special teams plays.

Buddy Jackson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, bouncing off two Utah tacklers at the Pitt 15 before sprinting to the outside and racing down the sideline for a score.

The unit needed just four plays to strike again. The Pitt defense forced a three-and-out and Alex Taglianetti blocked Nick Marsh’s punt. Antwuan Reed picked up the loose ball at the 10 and strolled into the end zone to put Pitt up 14-3, the first punt block for a score by the Panthers since 1995.

Utah rallied to get within a point thanks to a little luck. Hays hit Luke Matthews for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 2:07 to go in the half. Hays heaved the ball in the face of a heavy rush and Pitt linebacker Max Gruder deflected it into Matthews’ hands.

The momentum carried over into the second half as Utah continued its domination of the Big East.

Click here for the Scoring Summary & Stats from the game.

Up next, Pitt takes on the UConn Huskies at 8 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Heinz Field.

Pitt Panthers
Utah Utes
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  • Pitt Guy

    High Octane Special Teams!!!! Thanks Peterson………………….this second choice for a coach is a putz

  • marilyn

    Can someone tell me what has happened to Pitt??? This year has been terrible!!! If someone can give me an answer (or even half an answer) I would greatly appreciate it. Is it coaching, is it the quarterback; is it the defense!!! We need answers… High school teams are better than they are.

  • Charlie

    Pitt should change its name to Putt. My bowels move faster than this high octane joke. Also, Coach told us that we wouldn’t be able to sit down during the game because of all the scoring. He is right, I stopped sitting at Heinz because I am now standing doing yardwork instead of wasting my life in that dump of a stadium! Thanks Smilin’ Steve!

    • marilyn

      Charlie I have never laughed so hard….maybe next Pitt game you can come out and do my yardwork!!!!!

  • Charlie

    You’re welcome! I’m as diehard as they come until now. I’ll be over with my rake and will do it faster than a HIgh Octane offense….Of course, the Silver Sneakers at South Hills Village could also do it faster than the High Octane offense.

  • Devil's Advocate

    Maybe the ACC should reconsider accepting Piit, Oh, that’s right, they aren’t a football conference anyway.

  • Pitt Who

    I love how The Pitt Post said there were over 40k fans at the game. Pitt fans do great dressing up as Yellow Seat Covers

  • 2059

    Pitt will make a great doormat in the ACC, with or without Rushel Shell.

  • Graham Kracker

    High Methane! This coach can go back to doing his yard work and forget about the ACC, he won’t be here long enough…Who’s your 3rd choice Steve?

  • Panther Chief

    The way Stevie P thinks, I’ll say the next Pitt coach is former Bucco skipper John Russell. Then the marketing department can try to psych people up with catchy slogans with Russell Shell and John Russell. What a complete waste of $2million bucks Pitt! Shame on my alma mater.

  • Gave up tix

    It’s truly horrible. I gave up season tix for the first time in 20 years because it’s just pathetic. There’s no real evidence of things getting any better. I’m a young guy but the students are too quiet and leave too early (surely to stay ahead of their studies). The stupid music they play, the circus tent atmosphere outside of the stadium. Fans still arriving well into the second quarter. PITT BRASS – NO ONE CARES ANYMORE!!!!!!!!! DO SOMETHING AND FIRE STEVE P!

  • matt

    why is every so hard on Pitt and the new coach?! every one here doesn’t know anything about football. Old coach wanted a running offense and so he put one in place. New coach wants a passing offense but only has a running offense to work with. Pitt was wrong to put so much hype into this year and the “High Octane” thing made it worse. Grahm is the man for Pitt in the Acc cause he will get what he needs and that is a qb and really fast players. Go Pitt!

    • MATT IS Dumb

      Matt u r stupid PITT didn’t build up HIGH OCTANE it was your coach talking about competing for a title right now and in the ACC they will be destroyed on a yearly basis by VA TECH, FLA ST., BC, MIAMI, and believe me the list can and will continue, CLEMSON, ETC… They are not good and next year not good and so on and so forth. Recruits will not come to play for Todd Graham, when they can play for Jimbo Fisher please leave stupid Homer comments off of this board this is for people who do know football, not people who know PITT only football. I suppose you think that Tino Sunseri is good too??? Or wait that the defense PITT has is good too right??? They r ranked about 90th in the country, sure can’t wait to see Sammy Watknis run by the PITT db’s for about 300 receiving yards.

  • class of 1980

    The real culprit behind all of this is Steve Pederson. For those of you that follow these blogs, I’ve been calling for his head since last December. He destroyed the Nebraska program, made a mess out of the Wannstadt firing, and then the Haywwod fiasco. I believe so many people dropped their season tickets and were screaming for his head that he told Coach Graham to go out and sell the people on this high octane promise of 40 pts per game and you won’t want to sit down during the game. That was all Steve and his fake smile. What other coach do you know has taken over at any level and talked like that. Fire Pederson.

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