BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - If Pitt never returns to the BBVA Compass Bowl, that will be just fine with the Panthers, who suffered another loss at Legion Field when they fell to Ole Miss 38-17 at Legion Field on Saturday.
The game marks Pitt's second consecutive loss at the BBVA Compass Bowl and the Panthers' third trip to the game, a streak that will likely end when Pitt moves to the ACC in 2013.
The hopes of finishing the 2012 season with a winning record fell early in Saturday's game, as Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson intercepted Tino Sunseri on the first drive of the game, ending Sunseri's streak of passes without an interception at 271. The Rebels capitalized on the turnover five plays later when Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw to Ja-Mes Logan for a touchdown.
Wallace threw for another score later in the first quarter and the Rebels never trailed in the game.
Pitt did cut the lead to 14-7 in the second quarter after K'Waun Williams recorded the Panthers' second interception of the quarter. With the aid of a personal foul penalty on Ole Miss that turned third-and-seven at the 22 into first down at the 11, Pitt scored on a Sunseri pass to Devin Street. But the Panthers didn't get in the end zone again, only adding to their score with a 47-yard field goal by Kevin Harper late in the second quarter.
While Pitt scrapped together its 10 points, Ole Miss scored a third touchdown and a field goal in the first half and then added three more touchdowns in the final two quarters. Only one of the Rebels' five touchdown drives lasted more than five plays, including a one-play drive that saw freshman running back I'Tavius Mathers go 62 yards for a score.
Meanwhile, Pitt couldn't generate anything offensively in the second half. The Panthers went three-and-out twice and punted three times before going to desperation mode with fourth-down attempts. Only a late touchdown pass from Sunseri to Mike Shanahan cut the Ole Miss lead to 21 points.
Pitt played without senior running back Ray Graham, who sat out with a hamstring injury and was replaced by freshman Rushel Shell. Making his first career start, Shell rushed 25 times for 79 yards. Sunseri completed 50% of his passes for 186 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He finished his time at Pitt eight yards behind Dan Marino in career passing yardage.
Wallace led Ole Miss with three passing touchdowns, while the Rebels rushed for a total of 215 yards.
With the loss, Pitt finished Paul Chryst's first season as head coach with a 6-7 record.
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