Pitt loses at No. 5 Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Pitt is taking on No. 5 Notre Dame in South Bend today. Keep up with all the action here.
Pitt won the coin toss to open the game and deferred, giving the ball to Notre Dame's offense and quarterback Ian Book. The Irish picked up two first downs before the Panthers got their first big play of the game: a 16-yard sack by Rashad Weaver on first-and-10 from the Notre Dame 48. Book and the Irish never recovered and had to punt.
Pitt's first drive started at its own 12, and while the Panthers seemed to be stalled at the 30 on a fourth-and-3, Notre Dame jumped offsides, giving Pitt a fresh set of downs. From there, Kenny Pickett led a methodical drive. Powered by a running game that seemed to pick up where it left off last week, Pitt's offense moved down the field until Qadree Ollison took a snap from the Wildcat and punched it into the end zone from nine yards out to give Pitt the first score of the game.
In all, Pitt's touchdown drive covered 88 yards on 17 plays and took nearly 10 minutes off the clock.
PITT 7, NOTRE DAME 0 (1:26, 1st quarter)
Notre Dame's second drive got a big boost when Book took off on a 22-yard scramble to avoid pressure on third-and-5. But on the ensuing first down, Book was again under pressure and this time he threw the ball on the run. Pitt cornerback Jason Pinnock read the pass and picked it off to give Pitt possession heading into the second quarter.
Pitt's offense couldn't capitalize on the turnover, going three-and-out on the next possession. And after the Panthers' defense forced another Notre Dame punt, the offense struggled again, going three-and-out with a holding penalty making life particularly difficult.
Notre Dame brought Pitt's punt back across midfield, and the Irish started at the Panthers' 49. Book led a pair of third-down conversions, but he also took what was ruled a late hit by Pitt defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, which drew a 15-yard roughing penalty.
Book couldn't move the sticks when Notre Dame got close to the end zone, though, as his scramble on third-and-8 only gained five yards and the Irish had to settle for a field goal to get on the board.
PITT 7, NOTRE DAME 3 (4:34, 2nd quarter)
Pitt's offense had no answer for Notre Dame's field goal, posting a three-and-out and gaining five yards in the process. After the Panthers scored on their first possession, Pickett and the offense posted three consecutive three-and-outs.
Notre Dame took the ball looking to score before the half, and the Irish appeared to be well on their way, driving from their own 34 to inside the Pitt 10. But once again, the Panthers' defense stepped up with a pair of sacks to push Notre Dame back to the 24. From there, Irish kicker Justin Yoon converted a 41-yard field goal, and the teams headed for the locker room.
PITT 7, NOTRE DAME 6 (Halftime)
Pitt got the ball to open the second half, but the offense didn't have to do anything, as Maurice Ffrench took the kickoff and returned it 99 yards up the sideline for his second kick return touchdown of the season.
PITT 14, NOTRE DAME 6 (14:46, 3rd quarter)
Notre Dame was on the move after Pitt's kick return touchdown and drove inside the Panthers' 30. But on first down from the 24, Book felt pressure from defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, who hit the quarterback's hand as he threw. The pass was wobbly, and safety Jazzee Stocker picked it off to give possession back to Pitt's offense.
With renewed life from another turnover, Pitt took the ball at its own 22. For the first time all day, Pickett kept things alive with some clutch plays on third down, converting a third-and-4 with an 11-yard pass to Aaron Mathews and converting third-and-11 with a flip pass to Darrin Hall over the middle of the field that picked up 16 yards.
But the offense stalled on a third-and-9 from the Notre Dame 29 and Alex Kessman missed his 49-yard field goal attempt, leaving the score at 14-6.
That didn't last, thought. After the missed field goal, Notre Dame drove 71 yards on eight plays with a series of big pass plays: 21 yards, 26 yards to convert second-and-21, 15 yards to convert third-and-6 and 16 yards for a touchdown. Book missed his receiver on the two-point conversion, though, and Pitt's lead held in the third quarter.
PITT 14, NOTRE DAME 12 (2:09, 3rd quarter)
When Pitt's offense took the ball after Notre Dame's touchdown, the Panthers produced their best drive since their first possession of the game. With the running game hitting, Pitt avoided third downs as the offense moved down the field. But Pickett's pass to Will Gragg on third-and-12 from the Notre Dame 26 only got eight yards, bringing Kessman out for a 36-yard field goal attempt.
Unfortunately for Pitt, Kessman missed, and the Panthers' lead remained at two points.
The Panthers' defense had an answer, though, giving up one first down via penalty before forcing another Notre Dame punt. Pitt drove to midfield with its eyes on more points, but a swing pass on third-and-2 from the Notre Dame 47 lost three yards, leading to another Pitt punt.
This time, Notre Dame took advantage. After a pass interference call on Dane Jackson, the Irish moved into Pitt territory and then Book hit his biggest pass of the day: a 35-yard touchdown throw to Miles Boykin.
NOTRE DAME 19, PITT 14 (5:43, 4th quarter)
With the game on the line, Pitt took the ball needing a touchdown, but the offense only made it 20 yards before failing on a third-and-4. Pat Narduzzi tried to get tricky by having backup quarterback Jeff George Jr. line up at punter and attempt a pass. The trick play failed and Notre Dame got the ball back.
Pitt's defense stepped up one last time, forcing a three-and-out and then making a big play on Book to stop him on fourth down and give the ball back to the Panthers' offense. But a 14-yard sack on first down was too much to overcome, and Pitt turned it over on downs.
NOTRE DAME 19, PITT 14 (Final)