Created on Saturday, 10 November 2012 04:24 Written by RJ Sepich / Sports Editor
After collapsing in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame last week, allowing the Fighting Irish to storm back from 14 points down and steal a victory in triple overtime, the Pitt football team continued its collapse into the first half of the Panthers’ game Friday night at Connecticut.
The Huskies’ anemic offense suddenly became explosive against Pitt, scoring 24 points and tallying almost 300 yards before halftime as Connecticut (4-6, 1-4 Big East) held on to defeat the Panthers (4-6, 1-4 Big East) at Rentschler Field, 24-17.
Entering the contest on a four-game losing streak with a struggling offense, Connecticut received the game’s opening kickoff and easily marched 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown.
Pitt has now lost every game in which it conceded points on its opponent’s first drive of the game.
But the Huskies weren’t done scoring.
Following a Pitt punt, Connecticut added a field goal and then stretched its lead to 17-0 when Nick Williams returned a punt 80 yards for a score. By halftime, the Huskies were ahead 24-0 thanks to another long touchdown drive.
The Panthers showed life in the second half.
Senior kicker Kevin Harper converted a 42-yard field goal attempt, and when redshirt senior quarterback Tino Sunseri found redshirt sophomore tight end Drew Carswell for an 11-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, it appeared Pitt might be on the verge of an incredible comeback of its own.
The game got even more interesting when Sunseri completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Mike Shanahan with less than three minutes remaining to bring the score to 24-17.
But the Panthers’ defense couldn’t get the ball back, and Pitt lost for the fourth time in five trips to Connecticut since the Huskies joined the Big East in football in 2004.
Fortunately for the Panthers, they won’t have to face UConn in conference play anymore with Pitt’s impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
With two games remaining in the season — both of which Pitt needs to win if it wants to earn a trip to a bowl game — the Panthers will now have a bye week before hosting Rutgers on Nov. 24 at Heinz Field for Senior Day.