The Pitt defense was back to its old self Saturday night, just with a couple new faces.
One week after hearing about missed tackles, blown assignments and 500 total yards, Pitt stymied Navy in a 27-14 victory at Heinz Field.
The Panthers did it without leading tackler and starting linebacker Adam Gunn, who didn't play due to an ankle injury, and with junior Elijah Fields making his first career start at free safety.
"I feel like we are one of the best defenses in the country, and we didn't play like it the first two games," said senior defensive tackle Gus Mustakas, who had a career-high 10 tackles. "This was a great step to get to that point."
Freshman Dan Mason, starting for Gunn, had 11 tackles and two sacks.
The victory, in front of 55,064 fans, improved Pitt to 3-0 for the first time in nine years and distanced the defense from the multiple breakdowns in last week's win at Buffalo.
"We take a lot of pride in shutting teams down," said All-Big East defensive end Greg Romeus, who recorded his first sack of the season. "We're not satisfied, but we're happy with the outcome."
Senior quarterback Bill Stull enjoyed one of his best days at Pitt, and freshman tailbacks Dion Lewis and Ray Graham each rushed for touchdowns.
Stull, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown, was on-target all game.
"I didn't feel like I had to force anything," Stull said.
Lewis, ranked third in the nation at 159.5 yards per game, rushed for 79 yards on 23 carries. Sophomore Jonathan Baldwin caught six passes for a career-high 111 yards.
"All night long, I was saying this was going to be my breakout game," Baldwin said.
But the story was the defense. Pitt was both aggressive and disciplined against a triple-option attack that often makes opposing defenders look silly.
Navy's rushing attack, which has led the nation four years in a row, managed only 129 yards - 109 below its average (238) - on 46 carries. Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs completed only 6 of 21 for 89 yards and was sacked six times.
"That was probably one of the worst performances as a team we've had in a long time," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. …