Football: Panthers lose three players to season-ending injuries

By Lauren Kirschman

The Pitt football team lost three offensive players, including star tailback Ray Graham, for the… The Pitt football team lost three offensive players, including star tailback Ray Graham, for the remainder of the season in its win over Connecticut on Wednesday night.

Pitt head coach Todd Graham announced on Thursday that Graham, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Matt Rotheram and junior receiver Cameron Saddler all suffered season-ending injuries in Pitt’s 35-20 win over Connecticut at Heinz Field.

“We are incredibly disappointed for these three young men,” Todd Graham said in a Pitt press release. “They have put so much work into our program, and it’s heartbreaking to see their seasons end prematurely. Even from the sidelines, I know they are going to remain important leaders who will continue to make an impact as we strive to reach our goal of a Big East Championship.”

Ray Graham suffered a knee injury on Pitt’s first drive of the game and will need surgery. He entered Wednesday’s game ranked second in the nation with 134.1 rushing yards per game.

He ended the season with 958 total rushing yards — currently fourth in the country — on 164 carries, a 5.8-yard average per carry. Graham also scored nine touchdowns.

Todd Graham called Ray Graham “irreplaceable” after Pitt’s win over Connecticut.

Rotheram fractured his left ankle and will also undergo surgery. He played in every game this season, starting against Utah at tackle and against Connecticut at guard.

Saddler, who played in all eight games and started seven, fractured his sternum following a 40-yard catch in the first half that helped set up the Panthers’ third touchdown.

He finished the year with 19 catches for 207 yards — a 10.9-yard average per catch — and a touchdown.

“I know each will attack their rehabilitation programs with incredible commitment and be back better than ever next season,” Coach Graham said. “That’s the type of people and competitors they are.”

The Panthers have now lost six total players to season-ending injuries this year.

Sophomore safety Jason Hendricks and redshirt freshman wide receiver Salath Williams both suffered shoulder injuries against Utah. Senior offensive guard Chris Jacobson injured his knee against Iowa.

Jacobson could receive a sixth year of eligibility if he’s granted a medical hardship waiver.

The Panthers’ next game is Nov. 5 against Cincinnati at Heinz Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.