Late Blewitt kick lifts Pitt over Syracuse 23-20 to stay undefeated in ACC

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Late Blewitt kick lifts Pitt over Syracuse 23-20 to stay undefeated in ACC

By Chris Puzia / Assistant Sports Editor

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Despite its new No. 25 ranking, Pitt football kept to its recent tradition of close games against Syracuse, as well as its newfound tradition of Chris Blewitt game-winning field goals.

On Saturday, the Panthers (6-1, 4-0 ACC) pulled out a close road win against the Orange (3-4, 1-2 ACC), 23-20 with a 24-yard Blewitt field goal as time expired.

The kick followed an extended 18-play, 9:20 drive that included a successful fake punt on fourth down to sustain Pitt’s offensive flow.

But after an early Blewitt field goal, Pitt did not lead in the game until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Qadree Ollison punched in a one-yard touchdown, his second short score of the game.

Ollison finished with 103 yards on 23 carries and the two touchdown rushes.

Though Pitt beat Syracuse 30-7 last season, the Panthers won the 2013 matchup 17-16 and lost 14-13 in 2012.

For the second straight game, wide receiver Tyler Boyd filled the stat sheet. He finished the game with six carries for 34 yards, 12 catches for 93 yards and added a 38-yard pass completion.

Pitt’s defense also made some big plays in the game, despite allowing a couple of extended first-half drives. Both senior cornerback Lafayette Pitts and junior linebacker Matt Galambos picked off Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, who finished with 210 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the turnovers.

After Pitt’s early field goal, Dungey and Syracuse marched down the field and culminated the scoring drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ervin Phillips.

Ollison charged in to tie the game at 10 shortly before halftime, but then Syracuse drove downfield in 1:06 to set up another score. Pitt responded with a long Nathan Peterman run followed by an athletic Boyd grab to set up a field goal and entered halftime trailing 17-13.

Peterman finished the game 19-of-25 for 189 yards and added 24 yards on the ground.

After a scoreless third quarter, Ollison put Pitt back on top with his one-yard score, but Syracuse quickly responded with a field goal to tie the game at 20.

Pitt then began what became the final drive of the game from its own 11-yard line with 9:20 remaining. Several key third down runs and timely passes from Peterman kept Pitt’s drive and momentum strong until it reached field goal range. From there, Ollison kept inching the ball forward until Blewitt’s last kick became an easy chip shot through the uprights.

In his return to his former school, Syracuse transfer Dontez Ford had four catches for a season-high 78 yards.

Pitt has now won four straight games after losing to No. 12 Iowa on Sept. 20 and leads the ACC Coastal division. Next week, the Panthers return home for a Thursday night matchup against North Carolina. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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