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Pitt notebook: Savage shakes off injuries, goes the distance vs. Orange

| Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
Pitt quarterback Tom Savage lines up to throw a pass against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Quarterback Tom Savage limped into and out of the huddle, winced in pain and even looked dazed at one point during Pitt's 17-16 victory Saturday against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

But he never left the game, despite a sore knee and other ailments.

Tyler Boyd, the freshman wide receiver who thinks and plays older than that, noticed.

“He just kept coming back, limping,” Boyd said. “We held him up. (We said), ‘C'mon, bro, we are going to ride for you. We got your back, no matter what.'

“He manned up and brought out all the dog that was in him.”

Savage said he didn't remember a specific hit that left him on the turf and slow to get up.

“I really don't even remember, and it's not because I have a concussion,” he said, insisting he was fine.

Coach Paul Chryst devised a quick-release passing game where Savage took short drops to neutralize the Syracuse pass rush.

Still, Savage was sacked three times and took several other hits.

“You're talking about a tough guy,” Chryst said.

Savage was 28 of 41 for 218 yards and a touchdown. No completion went longer than 17 yards. Boyd led all pass catchers with 10 receptions for 82 yards.

Injury update

Pitt played almost the entire game without senior Devin Street, who started after hurting his ankle last week. He caught two passes for 7 yards on Pitt's first possession but left the game after that with an elbow injury and did not return.

“I appreciate what Devin did going out there,” Chryst said. “He couldn't go any further. A lot of guys did that.”

Middle linebacker Shane Gordon also was injured during the game and did not finish.

Trust in 'Spoon

Senior Kevin Weatherspoon fumbled twice, losing one while returning a punt that led to a Syracuse field goal.

Chryst, however, allowed Weatherspoon to continue returning punts, and he caught three more without incident.

He finished with three returns for 23 yards.

More on Donald

Savage said he watched in amazement as defensive tackle Aaron Donald put on a show with nine tackles, 3 12 for a loss.

“It seems unfair almost that he is a man among boys out there,” Savage said. “That is no disrespect for Syracuse. It's tough to block Aaron.

“It doesn't matter what it is, he gets past the guy and almost disrupts the handoff. It's pretty scary to have that.”

Donald said video study last week allowed him to find Syracuse's vulnerability while blocking for kicks, and he used that knowledge to deflect an extra-point try in the first quarter.

“We pushed them back and got my hands up and got a piece of it,” he said.

Notable

Cornerback Lafayette Pitts was beaten for a 42-yard touchdown pass by Alvin Cornelius, who caught his first two passes of the season. But Pitts batted down Syracuse's final fourth-down pass of the game. ... Pitt improved its Carrier Dome record since 2006 to 4-1. ... A crowd of 35,317 watched the game.

— Jerry DiPaola

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