Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Same Song and Dance for Panthers Promising Start, Conner's Huge Game Marred by More Defensive Lapses North Carolina 40, Pitt 35

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Same Song and Dance for Panthers Promising Start, Conner's Huge Game Marred by More Defensive Lapses North Carolina 40, Pitt 35

Article excerpt

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- For the past two months, every Sunday has taken on a familiar tone for the Pitt football team.

Coaches and players gather at the team's practice facility for various meetings and treatment, all while collectively wondering how they let another close game slip through their fingers.

Today will be no different as the Panthers (4-6, 2-4 ACC) ponder a 40-35 loss to North Carolina that gives them six defeats in their past seven games and puts any hopes of a bowl appearance on life support.

Like many other losses this season, Pitt held the lead for significant portions of Saturday's game -- 46:07, to be exact -- yet still found itself behind when the clock hit triple zeroes.

"I don't know what it is, I just don't like it," receiver Tyler Boyd said.

"I'm a competitor; I love to win and hate to lose.

"Nobody likes losing and once you lose consistently, there's nothing you like about it."

Boyd put up his usual numbers -- five catches for 160 yards and a touchdown -- and running back James Conner ran like a wrecking ball for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries.

Conner's final touchdown, a 22-yard run with 3:33 left, gave the Panthers a short-lived one-point lead, 35-34.

But the Pitt defense, which has been reeling for the past two games, had no answer for North Carolina's up-tempo offense.

The Tar Heels confidently marched down the field and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by running back T.J. Logan with 50 seconds left.

The key play on the winning drive was a fourth-and-2 at the Pitt 29 when North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams, as he did all game, found a hole in the middle of Pitt's defense for a 6-yard run.

"He's a good athlete," Pitt linebacker Matt Galambos said.

"He'll make you miss, but we've just got to tackle better as a unit."

Pitt got the ball back with 50 seconds left and one timeout, but a completion short of the first-down marker took more than 20 seconds off the clock, and quarterback Chad Voytik fumbled at the end of a 21-yard run to give the ball back to the Tar Heels and end the game. …

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