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EL PASO, Texas (KDKA) — The Pitt Panthers are preparing for Monday’s Hyundai Sun Bowl and for some, it will be their last game as a Panther.
Pitt wrapped up their final practice Saturday afternoon in El Paso, Texas.
The Panthers are 2-1 all-time in the Sun Bowl. The last time the Panthers played in El Paso, they lost 3-0 to Oregon State.
Kicker Alex Kessman is very aware that field goals could be important in Monday’s game.
“[It’s a] pretty windy stadium. I say this all the time, I just gotta kick my ball and stay smooth, fundamentals and just put it through the uprights,” he said. “If it comes down to [a field goal], I gotta do my job and we’ll go from there.”
Kessman was one of the nation’s best from long-range and he says, depending on the wind, he thinks he could make a 65 yarder or more if need be.
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The Sun Bowl against Stanford will be the final game for a lot of players.
After Saturday’s practice, the team held a ceremonial send-off honoring the seniors on the team. Underclassmen and coaches took the time to thank every senior player.
“It was an awesome send-off, just being there with my family members. I can’t say enough about this program. You know, these are my guys. Truly family, the guys I spent the most time with over the last five years. It was awesome, kind of a surreal moment, and I couldn’t appreciate it. I’ll keep it in my mind for the rest of my life,” senior safety Dennis Briggs said.
WATCH: Pitt Panthers Hold Ceremonial Send-Off For Seniors —
Elijah Zeise has played multiple positions during his time at Pitt, but he found a home as a linebacker. He played in all 13 games this season and he’s hoping his last one will be his best one.
“Getting to go to ACC championship this year, obviously that didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but I think getting to eight wins would definitely be a great way to finish the season, and then, you know, we haven’t won a bowl game in quite some time, so that’s definitely important as well,” Zeise said.
Zeise says he thinks the team can put their past two losses behind them.
“Yeah, I mean honestly, I think it is pretty easy to put it behind us at this point. It does seem like it was, like, forever ago, and so I don’t think it’s really in anyone’s minds right now. We’re just out here having fun and getting ready for the game,” he said.
Zeise will have one more game left after his final game with the Panthers; the linebacker has been selected to play in the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl all-star game in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Jan. 13.
The Sun Bowl kick-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. (EST) Monday on KDKA.