Pittsburgh, PA — The Pitt football team was toe-to-toe with 20th ranked NC State for over half of Saturday afternoon’s contest, but ended up falling by a 35-17 score.
“We made some mistakes against a good top 20 football team,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “They ran the ball
and rushed the ball well. We didn’t. Usually when you can’t stop the run and they can run it, you are
going to run into trouble.”
Pitt (2-5, 0-3 ACC) struck first in the contest when redshirt sophomore quarterback Ben DiNucci threw a career-long 33-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior Jester Weah.
This score came with 5:05 remaining in the first quarter. The next 4:10 would completely shift the momentum as junior tailback Nyheim Hines took complete control of the game.
Hines first rushed the ball when a few yards out he met Pitt sophomore defensive back Damar Hamlin. Hamlin was slightly out position and was therefore unable to bring Hines down. The end result was an 83-yard rushing touchdown which tied the game.
Pitt was able to drive the ball to its own 39-yard line before being forced to punt. Hines was waiting and ended up returning the ball 92 yards untouched for another NC State touchdown.
The referees missed a clear holding call or illegal block in the back call just prior to Hines catching the punt and the touchdown stood.
Coming into this game, Hines averaged 166.67 all-purpose yards, but at the end of the first quarter accounted for 200 all-purpose yards.
Though it was clear that NC State had grabbed momentum, Pitt’s pass defense kept the team in this contest.
NC State quarterback Ryan Finley was held to 69 yards in the first half, with 56 of those yards coming in the final Wolfpack drive. Prior to that, he was 2-of-9 from the field for 13 yards.
In its final full drive in the second half, Pitt was able to use junior Jordan Whitehead in several different packages including a wildcat formation which allowed for an extended drive which totaled 11 plays.
Still, the most important play of that particular drive was a 3rd-and-3 on NC State’s 39 yard line. Redshirt junior tailback Qadree Ollison held a block on a NC State defender which allowed DiNucci to scramble three yards for a Pitt first down.
With Pitt continuing its drive, DiNucci started anew on a first down scrambling to the right and finding redshirt junior offensive lineman Brian O’Neill on a backwards pass. Initially the play was ruled a touchdown, but O’Neill’s knee was down at the half-yard line, equating to a 10 yard gain.
A play later, junior tailback Darrin Hall ran the ball in for a touchdown, tying the game at 14.
With 2:38 remaining in the first half, NC State went on a 12 play drive and faced a 3rd-and-2 at Pitt’s four-yard line. Initially it appeared that NC State scored a touchdown with redshirt sophomore Jakobi Meyers on the receiving end, but instead sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was called for pass interference pushing the Wolfpack back 15 yards.
Offensive PI? He's being jammed pic.twitter.com/QMnPLTtlfd
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 14, 2017
After Finley ran the ball for two yards, graduate student kicker Carson Wise lined up to kick the ball. Pitt elected to ice Wise twice with timeouts and the move paid off with a miss wide left.
Neither team had much of anything going for the majority of the third quarter.
Junior Quadree Henderson was able to return the opening second half kickoff to Pitt’s 33-yard line, but this was undone three plays later when senior cornerback Mike Stevens intercepted DiNucci’s pass.
From there it was a battle of field position with NC State driving in Pitt territory but unable to put points up and the Panthers starting deeper in their own territory and punting.
With 4:32 remaining in the third quarter, NC State started a drive with Finley successfully throwing into double coverage with Harmon on the receiving end of a 43-yard pass play placing the Wolfpack on Pitt’s 23.
Four plays later, Finley found Meyers for a three-yard touchdown.
Pitt then decided to bring freshman Kenny Pickett in at quarterback. He had been warming up prior to the previous Pitt offensive series but the decision was made to insert him at this point in the game.
The Pickett-led Panthers went three and out.
“I think he’s a good football player,” said Narduzzi. “We are going to need him somewhere. I don’t want his first action to be when he has to go in there. We have a lot of confidence in both those guys. We could see back in camp that Kenny can do a lot of nice things out there. He had some nice throws and had a couple of good scrambles. He is only going to get better.
NC State responded with a eight play touchdown drive. Harmon recorded another deep ball reception catching a 36-yard pass to Pitt’s 11. Senior H-back Jaylen Samuels scored a one yard touchdown.
Harmon was able to secure his fourth 100-yard or more receiving game of the season, the first to do that at NC State since Jerricho Cotchery in 2003.
Pickett was able to connect three times with Weah, each resulting in a first down. Still, the drive ended in a 43 yard Alex Kessman field goal.
Pitt did get another chance to cut into NC State’s lead but were unable to complete the drive. On 4th-and-10, Pickett scrambled right, tossed the ball to Hall who fumbled the football. Though Weah recovered the fumble, it was well short of the first down mark.
NC State firmly secured its sixth win of the season with Samuels rushing for a 40-yard touchdown.
DiNucci came back in for Pitt’s final drive and after a first down was sacked and two plays later lost a fumble.
Pitt will next travel to face Duke on Oct. 21 with kickoff set for 12:20 p.m on the ACC Network. Duke (4-3/1-3 ACC) fell Saturday afternoon 17-10 to Florida State. The Blue Devils have lost each of the last three contests.
He said it
“He dislocated his pinky or something and then it went back in and he was fine. He was being
theatrical. It was theatrical. He was in pain, and that hurts. When it goes back in, it’s fine. I said ‘How
many fingers do you have?’ He said, ’10,’ and I said, ‘Well only one of them is hurt and nine are okay, so
we’re going to tape it up.’ He started laughing.” – NC State coach Dave Doeren on sophomore defender Bradley Chubb’s second half finger injury