Panthers wilt in national spotlight
College Football Videos
This was hardly the way to take a step toward national prominence for the Pitt football program.
Brought down by an anemic offense, the Panthers lost to No. 19 Miami, 31-3, on Thursday night for its worst loss at Heinz Field in nearly nine years.
In front of a national television audience, Pitt (1-2) needed nearly 24 minutes before gaining its initial first down, and lost to Miami for the 15th time in the past 16 meetings between the former Big East rivals.
"Right now, we are not in sync," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "When you allow five sacks and nine tackles for loss and three turnovers, you are not going to beat anybody."
By the time it was over, Tino Sunseri was on the sideline and most of the 58,115 fans who had this game circled on their calendars had fled for the parking lots.
Miami (2-1) scored on the game's opening possession and led the rest of the way to give the ACC a much-needed nonconference victory over a BCS school. The Big East, meanwhile, dropped to 1-7 this season against BCS automatic qualifiers.
Pitt, hoping to use the high-profile matchup to build its national profile and gain a signature victory, went three-and-out on its first five possessions.
"We are one good play on offense right now and two bad plays," Wannstedt said. "That's what we are. We are not consistent doing anything. We are very inconsistent on offense, and we've probably been that way pretty much all year."
Pitt, the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Big East, finds itself with a losing record and many questions as its readies to play host to Florida International on Oct. 2.
"Right now, we are a one-win football team," Wannstedt said.
Midway through the second quarter, Pitt had no first downs and 33 total yards. The Panthers didn't muster their initial first down until 6:00 remained in the first half and didn't score until Dan Hutchins' 27-yard field goal with 14:35 to play made it 17-3.
It was Pitt's most lopsided loss at Heinz Field since a 42-10 loss to Syracuse on Oct. 13, 2001. It marked the first time in 60 games at Heinz Field that Pitt scored fewer than 10 points.
"We've got to look at the offensive line and see if we need to juggle some guys there," Wannstedt said.
The Panthers suffered another loss when middle linebacker Dan Mason sustained a dislocated right knee early in the third quarter. Mason was taken off the field on a cart, surrounded by many of his teammates.
Sunseri completed 8 of 15 passes for 61 yards before giving way to Pat Bostick when Miami took a 24-3 lead with 10:53 to play. Wannstedt said Sunseri was suffering from blurred vision after being hit in the head and the call to remove him was a "medical decision."
Ray Graham had his second consecutive 100-yard game, gaining 100 yards on 14 carries. Dion Lewis gained 41 yards on 12 carries.
Jacory Harris completed 21 of 32 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Miami, which rebounded from its Sept. 11 loss at Ohio State.
"I think we played our heart out as a defensive line," defensive end Jabaal Sheard said. "Everybody did what they could. We forced some bad passes. I think we played all right as a defense, but we gave up 31 points. I don't care how they got it. We gave it up."
Pitt was poised to get the ball back with 12:30 to play, but Cam Saddler muffed a Miami punt after calling for a fair catch and the Hurricanes recovered at the Pitt 43. Three plays later, Harris found Travis Benjamin for a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 24-3 Miami lead with 10:53 to play.
Pitt was outgained, 204-76, in the opening two quarters but kept the game close thanks to a pair of Harris interceptions in the first half. Harris has been intercepted 23 times since the start of last year.
Miami needed fewer than three minutes to take a 7-0 lead, marching 80 yards on 10 plays capped by Damien Berry's 1-yard touchdown with 11:35 to play in the first quarter. Berry carried 21 times for 87 yards.
Miami threatened on its next possession, but safety Dom DeCicco intercepted a Harris pass in the end zone.
Down 10-0, Pitt's best scoring chance of the first half came late in the second quarter when the Panthers put together three first downs and reached the Miami 36. But the drive stalled, and Hutchins missed a 52-yard field goal attempt wide left with 11 seconds to play before halftime.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unlike years past, strength of 2014 Steelers could be offense
- Wedding aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper ends in arrests
- Steelers Lookahead: Previewing Sunday’s game vs. Cleveland
- Love locks tokens fall prey to renovations on Pittsburgh bridges
- East Allegheny teachers to hit the picket lines
- Campus visit sells 4-star Ohio recruit Hall on Panthers
- Homestead to celebrate one of its own at jazz festival
- Flexible-use building in the works for Duquesne
- Housing market remains ‘disaster’ in Westmoreland County
- Pa. judge identified who denied Trib request to view sexually explicit emails circulated in AG’s Office
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu made 1st-time captain; Roethlisberger named for offense