Panthers Take Pounding at Heinz Field

By Gorman, Kevin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 23, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Panthers Take Pounding at Heinz Field

Gorman, Kevin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pitt can be thankful its Big East Conference opener against Connecticut was televised only on ESPNU, where the U could have had multiple meanings.

Unwatchable. Unbelievable.

The Wildcat offense went to the wayside, even as Pitt's quarterbacks threw four interceptions and the Panthers' lone offensive threat, star freshman tailback LeSean "Shady" McCoy, spent much of the game on the sideline.

Connecticut was happy with both scenarios in a 34-14 victory over Pitt on Saturday night before 40,145 at Heinz Field.

"Speaking from my heart, I take responsibility for that disappointing day," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was disappointing we could not muster up a more effective attack. We have to be accountable, and it starts with me.

"We have to find a way to win games."

UConn (4-0, 1-0), which started playing Division I-A football in 1999, beat Pitt (2-2, 0-1) for the second consecutive season and third time in four years. The Huskies beat Pitt, 46-45, in double overtime last season.

Pitt might have found a quarterback in true freshman Pat Bostick, who completed 27 of 41 passes for 230 yards in the second half, with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Oderick Turner. But Bostick threw three interceptions, including one that was returned 51 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Lawrence Wilson.

Wannstedt said Bostick will get the start next Saturday at Virginia.

Turnovers continued to haunt the Panthers, who also two fumbles, along with eight penalties for 57 yards.

Bostick didn't play until the second half, after starter Kevan Smith hyper-extended his right (throwing) elbow. Smith was 3 of 9 for 29 yards with an interception.

McCoy became the first Pitt freshman to run for back-to-back 100- yard games, but junior LaRod Stephens-Howling got the start at tailback. He had six carries for 16 yards.

The two rotated throughout the game, even though McCoy clearly sparked the Panthers' offense and led all rushers with 70 yards on 11 carries (6.4 yards per carry), including a 19-yard touchdown run, and had six catches for 16 yards.

Pitt played from behind the entire game after linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 26 yards before an unnecessary roughness penalty gave the Huskies the ball at Pitt's 6.

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