By Matt Popchock

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — A year ago there might have been a different culprit for such a humbling loss. But as Youngstown State spoiled Paul Chryst’s debut as head coach with a 31-17 win over Pitt at Heinz Field Saturday night, it was the defense, not the offense, that let down the Panthers most.

The Penguins converted 11 of 16 third downs in their upset, and at least two on three of their scoring drives. Furthermore, one of Pitt’s third-down stops was followed by a short David Brown field goal, and another by a halfback option touchdown pass from Jamaine Cook to Will Shaw. Punter Nick Liste was not pressed into duty until there were four minutes remaining in the first half.

“In football there’s always more 3rd-and-shorts than 3rd-and-longs, so the length of the third downs is going to play into that quite a bit. I thought they executed well,” Chryst said afterward of YSU’s offensive efficiency. “They did some good things. I know we struggled with matching a couple routes…but I thought they just beat us tonight.”

Chryst also addressed the tough sledding his Panthers found along the line of scrimmage, and went on to discuss the performance of tailback Ray Graham, who, despite the recent uncertainty of his health, finished with 72 seemingly pain-free yards on 14 carries.

Check out the full post-game remarks from the new head coach:

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