Football: Pitt beats Syracuse 45-14

By Alex Oltmanns

The Pitt football team needed to get its Big East season off to a good start on Saturday against… The Pitt football team needed to get its Big East season off to a good start on Saturday against Syracuse.

The Panthers did just that, winning 45-14, behind a strong passing game by the offense and a defense that forced timely stops and turnovers.

Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri turned in his best performance of the season, completing 17 of 24 passes for 266 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The first of those touchdowns came on the offense’s first play from scrimmage when he hit receiver Devin Street on a screen pass that went for 79 yards.

It was Street’s first career touchdown catch as a Panther, something that became a theme for Pitt (3-3, 1-0 Big East) at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

After finding Ray Graham for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7, Sunseri connected with Mike Shanahan for a 30-yard score, his first collegiate touchdown as well.

Running back Dion Lewis, who finished the game with 80 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, scored a 1-yard touchdown with 3:18 left in the first half to give Pitt a 28-7 lead going into halftime.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers forced Syracuse (4-2, 1-1 Big East) into four turnovers.

The first came on a Jarred Holley interception to halt a Syracuse drive late in the first half. Then in the third quarter, cornerback Ricky Gary picked off Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib and ran it back 80 yards for a touchdown to push the Panthers’ lead to 35-7.

In the fourth quarter, linebacker Greg Williams recovered a Syracuse fumble and ran the ball back to the Orange 6 yard line.

The Panthers took little time capitalizing on the turnover, as Sunseri found Brock DeCicco in the end zone for the tight end’s first career touchdown, which brought the score to 45-14.

Pitt will attempt to carry the momentum it built in this game into its next contest when it plays Rutgers at Heinz Field at noon next Saturday.