In a matchup of two of the top teams in the ACC Coastal division the Panthers rally falls short. The North Carolina Tar Heels came to Heinz fields and hand the #23 Pitt Panthers their first conference loss of the season winning by the score of 26-19. The Tar Heels led 20-3 at halftime with two second quarter touchdown passes by Marquise Williams. The first score was a 71 yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer. The second was a 32 yard pass to Mack Hollins, which was preceded by a Dontez Ford at the 38 yard line. The Panthers scored a field goal and a touchdown respectively on their first two drives of the second half, but they couldn’t get another decent drive until the end of the game when they scored with 46 seconds left on a 6 yard pass from Nathan Peterman to Scott Orndoff. UNC recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.
Williams went 14 for 23 for 270 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 52 yards for the Tar Heels (7-1, 4-0) and Elijah Hood also added 98 yards on 20 carries. Peterman went 27 for 42 for 262 yards and a touchdown pass for Pitt (6-2, 4-1) and Tyler Boyd caught 10 passes for 89 yards for Pitt. UNC outgained Pitt 444-415 and got the only turnover of the game, which was the fumble by Ford. Pitt won the time of possession 35:15- 24:45 and had 25 first downs to UNC’s 16, but it was the pressure applied by Gene Chizik’s defense that force the Panthers into five sacks and their bend but don’t break philosophy is what made the difference.
I think that Pitt was coming off an emotional win at Syracuse and came out flat in the first half but that is no excuse. If Pitt wants to be the program that it wants to be they need to string together solid performances week after week and with one of the youngest teams in the nation that will come with time. I will give Pat Narduzzi’s bunch credit that they did not give up and that is a positive sign for the future of the program, not just for the rest of the season. The Panthers will have nine days to prepare for a visit from the 9th ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame a week from Saturday. This will be another opportunity for Pitt for this young team to stack themselves up against elite competition.
UNC: vs (22) Duke Sat. 11/7
Pitt: vs (9) ND Sat. 11/7