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November 10, 2013

Pitt-Notre Dame notebook

Pitt defeated Notre Dame, 28-21, Saturday night at Heinz Field. Here's a collection of news and notes from the game.

- This game marked sixth consecutive game between Pitt and Notre Dame that was decided by single digits. The Panther win also snapped a three-game losing streak in the series between these two schools.

- This is the first time since 2007 that Pitt has beaten a Brian Kelly-coached team when the Panthers defeated Cincinnati. Kelly now owns a 5-2 all-time record against Pitt.

- Tom Savage recorded his highest offensive output since the 424-yard performance against Duke in September. Savage completed 22-of-35 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The fifth-year senior was also sacked just once, tying the season low.

- Pitt struggled on third downs Saturday night, converting just 3-of-13 opportunities. Though Savage was solid throughout, he did struggle on third down. He combined to go 2-of-8 passing for 13 yards and one touchdown, plus was sacked once on third downs.

- Savage spread the wealth in Pitt's win, hitting eight different players for catches. Six players recorded at least two receptions: [db]Tyler Boyd (8), Devin Street (4), Isaac Bennett (2), James Conner (2), Manasseh Garner and Scott Orndoff (2).

- Street finished with four catches for 76 yards and two scores, which was his second career multi-touchdown game. His 63-yard touchdown reception was his second-longest score of the season after his 67-yarder against Duke.

- Conner matched Street's touchdown total with a pair of scores and 35 yards on 10 carries. He also recorded two touchdowns against New Mexico in September.

- Redshirt junior safety Ray Vinopal had a monster game, forcing a fumble and recording two interceptions. It's the first multi-interception game since Jason Hendricks' two-pick game against Virginia Tech last season. Vinopal's interceptions came on consecutive pass attempts by Tommy Rees. The second was returned 40 yards to the Notre Dame 5-yard line and setup Conner's second touchdown of the game.

- In the third quarter, Pitt and Notre Dame combined to score three touchdowns in 1:35. The Panthers started with a 2-yard Conner run. On the first play of its drive, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees found T.J. Jones for an 80-yard score. Then, three plays later, [db]Tom Savage hit Devin Street, who broke a tackle and streaked down the sideline for a 63-yard touchdown.

- Starting with that first drive at 10:05 mark of the third quarter, Pitt scored touchdowns on three of four offensive drives.

- Three Pitt players left with injuries during the game. Tight end Scott Orndoff suffered an ankle injury on a 4-yard catch in the third quarter. Fullbacks Mark Giubilato and Adam Lazenga served as extra tight ends for the rest of the game. Later that drive, right tackle

T.J. Clemmings went down with cramps, and he was replaced by freshman Dorian Johnson. Clemmings returned on Pitt's next offensive series.

With less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Trenton Coles left the game with an injury. On a pass play, Coles was knocked out by teammate Jason Hendricks while trying to cover Notre Dame receiver William Fuller. After lying on the turf for a few minutes, Coles sat up and walked off the field under his own power.

- Pitt held the ball for 36:33 in Saturday's win, which is seven minutes above the Panthers' season average. Pitt owned the biggest advantage in the second quarter with 11:11 time of possession. The offense also controlled the ball for 9:52 in the third quarter and 8:53 in the final quarter.

- Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt was ejected from the game for a targeting penalty. On the first play of the second quarter, Pitt quarterback Tom Savage rolled right off play-action and scrambled for yards as Tuitt dropped his helmet to deliver the hit. Tuitt was flagged for a targeting personal foul. The penalty was upheld on review.

- Pitt employed a different look along the defensive line early in the game in nickel situations. Aaron Donald moved outside to defensive end, presumably to get more one-on-one looks. The move put David Durham at nose guard and Darryl Render played the three-technique defensive tackle.

-Pitt's captains for the game were Tom Savage, Devin Street, Tyrone Ezell and Aaron Donald.

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