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Pitt freshman Boyd shines in loss to Florida State

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 6:39 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt freshman receiver Tyler Boyd makes a diving catch against Florida State on Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at Heinz Field.

Pitt freshman Tyler Boyd felt a strange vibe Monday night at Heinz Field, something different from butterflies or the thrill of his first college football game.

“It was real weird looking up to the scoreboard and we're down,” the highly recruited receiver from Clairton said. “I'm used to looking up at the scoreboard and we're up, killing people. I mean, that's football. We're gonna get our ups and downs. But this college life ain't high school no more.”

Boyd lost his first game at Clairton, but the Bears subsequently won 63 straight, including four WPIAL championships and four PIAA Class A titles. That sort of thing is not likely to happen to Pitt after losing its season opener and ACC debut, 41-13, to Florida State.

Although FSU did to Pitt what Clairton did to just about everybody, Boyd stood out. On the fourth play of the Panthers' opening drive, he took off on a “jet sweep” around right end and gained 18 yards.

The drive resulted in a short-lived, 7-0 lead.

Boyd ran the play twice more for 20 and 16 yards. His 54 yards on three carries led the Panthers in rushing.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “When I got that first jet, I didn't think I'd be as open as that. And the second one, they just kept opening it up for me. After that it was, like, totally comfort. I was ready for them to put the ball in my hands.”

After a first half with no catches, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Boyd in the third quarter turned an apparently errant sideline pass from Tom Savage into a diving, highlight-worthy grab worth 17 yards. He later plucked a pass off his shoe tops for a 9-yard gain.

One of 12 first-year freshmen who played, Boyd also accounted for 71 yards on three kickoff returns, including one for 35 yards.

“I could have made more plays, but I made enough plays to do right, do good,” he said.

“He's an unbelievable athlete,” said Savage.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he and his staff are “trying to find ways” to get the ball to Boyd.

“He's a good football player,” said Chryst. “It was impressive the way he handled everything. We knew that going in.”

Boyd, who played in four high school title games at Heinz Field, said a “ton” of supporters came to see him play. He said he was “nervous, shaky,” at the start but settled down after his first carry.

“Oh, man, it was real crazy,” he said. “Pumped. We had a new thing with the fireworks, and the stadium was full of people, so I was just stunned. Overexcited. I was ready, pumped up. I wasn't scared of nothin'. So I felt good going into the game. I liked the atmosphere.”

That changed when FSU outscored the Panthers, 28-3, during the rest of the first half.

“I had to keep my composure, stay in the game, keep playin',” Boyd said. “But I definitely ain't used to losing.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@triblive.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

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