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Pitt vs. Syracuse recap: Panther fall, 14-13, in defensive struggle

The Pittsburgh Panthers fell to 0-2 in the Big East on Friday night with a one-point loss on the road to Syracuse. It was a defensive struggle, and two first-quarter touchdowns by the Orange proved to be the difference. Pitt moved the ball during the second half, but could only add a field goal, falling 14-13.

Tino Sunseri had another solid game under center, throwing for 319 yards and continuing his rhythm with wideout Devin Street and tight end Mike Shanahan. Street hauled n 10 catches for 130 yards and Sunseri hit Shanahan for a 46-yard gain in the third quarter, the biggest play of the half for the Panthers. It moved the ball to the Syracuse 11-yard line, but the Pitt offense could not finish the drive off, settling for a 27-yard Kevin Harper field goal. It would be the only points of the second half for either team.

The Panthers moved the ball inside the Syracuse 20-yard line again in the fourth quarter, but the drive turned disastrous from there. Sunseri hit Shanahan again, this time on a crossing pattern for a big 24-yard pickup to move the ball well within Harper's range for a game-winning field goal. But on the very next play, with the ball at the 17, Sunseri was whistled for intentional grounding, moving the ball back 15 yards. The Panthers quarterback was then sacked on the next play. Pitt was forced to punt on 4th and 34 with five minutes to play, a disappointing end to a once-promising scoring threat.

And they would never get the ball back. The Orange pounded the ball on the ground to run out the final five minutes as the Pitt defense could not get a stop to halt the chains from moving and the clock from ticking. It was a frustrating loss for Syracuse, with the team scoring just the one offensive touchdown on its first possession of the game.

Pitt will now hosts Louisville next week at Heinz Field.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.