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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Takeaways | Veilleux arrives, defense shines against Louisville

Redshirt+Sophomore+Nahki+Johnson+%285%29+tackles+Louisville+Senior+Isaac+Guerendo+%2823%29+during+Saturday+nights+game+against+Louisville+at+Acrisure+Stadium.
Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer
Redshirt Sophomore Nahki Johnson (5) tackles Louisville Senior Isaac Guerendo (23) during Saturday night’s game against Louisville at Acrisure Stadium.

Teamwork makes the dream work. The Panthers came out of Acrisure Stadium with a crucial win that served as a statement for the rest of the ACC. Through their new starting quarterback, and explosive defense and plain determination, the Panthers beat No. 14 ranked and undefeated Louisville 38-21

Here are my takeaways.

Veilleux successful on his first start

In his first start for the Panthers, redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux proved that he deserves the starting position, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. Veillieux had a challenging first couple of snaps as a first-time starter. A struggling offensive line in the first minutes, combined with inaccurate Veilleux passes made for three consecutive 3-and-outs. 

The Panthers’ offense sparked with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Veilleux to senior wide receiver Bub Means, which completely shifted the momentum for the rest of the game. For Veilleux, this completion gave him confidence moving forward.

“I didn’t have a completion before that one,” Veilleux said. “Getting that throw off settled me down, made me feel comfortable and I was ready to roll.” 

The offensive line, plagued by injuries, rotated throughout the game. Despite this, the offensive line had their best performance yet, only allowing one sack.   

Veilleux finished the game with a 46 percent completion rate, but his composure in the pocket, big pass attempts and arm strength showcased his ability to lead the offense. Veilleux threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Konata Mumpfield with three minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Panthers’ head coach Pat Narduzzi praised the entire offensive effort after the game.   

“[Veilleux] made plays when he needed to,” Narduzzi said. “Our receivers made plays, the offensive line also did a great job”. 

A consistent run game, a composed Veilleux and a thriving offensive line rotation gave enough breathing room in the first three quarters for the defense to shine in the fourth. 

Defense on point  

The Cardinals’ offense scored zero points in the second half due in part to great coverage from the secondary and constant pressure from the D-line. Senior cornerback MJ Devonshire shined as the main protagonist. 

With Darrell Revis in attendance, Devonshire took it to the house on an 86-yard pick-six, right at the end of the third quarter. The interception return was his longest — and Pitt’s longest pick-six since Sept. 13, 1997. Devonshire finished the night with five pass break-ups, leading the defense to a lights-out performance. 

Redshirt first-year defensive end Samuel Okunlola made a momentous play in the second quarter, getting a strip sack and a fumble recovery to set up a tying drive. Okunlola’s third sack of the year and most important yet, proves his ability of making big plays and highlights his importance to the defensive line. Senior cornerback AJ Woods also had an interception early in the 4th, which set the tone for the rest of the quarter. 

While the Panthers’ offense struggled to keep the momentum going in the 4th, the defense played with a lead which allowed the secondary to continue defending the pass, and lock down the Louisville offense. 

Hopeful for the future 

Not everything out of the game is positive. Flags, offensive struggles and a lot of missed tackles add up the few but persistent negative takeaways. A few pass interference calls and a roughing the passer penalty gave the Cardinals momentum. Senior quarterback Jack Plummer had 350 yards, one TD and two interceptions, while junior wide receiver Jamari Thrash finished the game with 18 targets and 120 yards. 

The Cardinals’ defense consistently predicted the Panthers run game, as the Panthers continued rushing up the middle of the offensive line. At the beginning of the game, missed tackles allowed the Louisville running backs to exploit the Panthers rush defense. 

Nevertheless, the defense came up big when it mattered. Louisville went 0-for-4 on fourth down conversions, while the Panthers went 2-for-2 on fourth down conversions.

Pitt’s performance rejuvenated a fanbase that yearned for good football all season long, and to get a win against an undefeated, top-15 opponent serves as the positive change the Panthers needed to achieve a successful season. 

The Panthers head on the road to face Wake Forest this Saturday at 3 p.m., and hope to rally off of this upset win.

About the Contributor
Nicolas Munera, Staff Writer
Nicolas Munera is a staff writer for The Pitt News. He is part of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Economics and minoring in international relations. He is embarking on his first year working for The Pitt News.