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Pitt hammers Syracuse 45-14

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Pitt scored on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back, thumping Syracuse 45-14 at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon. Tino Sunseri threw four touchdowns to four different receivers and the Panthers defense forced four turnovers as Pitt won their first conference game.

Pitt 45 - Syracuse 14

Pitt scored on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back, thumping Syracuse 45-14 at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon. Tino Sunseri threw four touchdowns to four different receivers and the Panthers defense forced four turnovers as Pitt won their first conference game.

GAME FLOW

Tino Sunseri found Devin Street on a screen pass on Pitt's first play from scrimmage, and 79 yards later Pitt had a 7-0 lead as Street followed his blocking, found some open space and took it to the house. Syracuse answered with a 10-play, 83-yard drive and tied the game at 7 on Delone Carter's one-yard run.

The teams traded punts as Pitt slowly won the field position battle, thanks to Dan Hutchins' 52-yard punt that pinned the Orange deep. After the Pitt defense forced a three-and-out, Cam Saddler's 31-yard punt return set the Panthers up deep in Syracuse territory. On a second and goal from the 15, Sunseri took a massive hit and still kept his cool, delivering a scoring strike to Ray Graham to put Pitt up 14-7.

After another Orange three-and-out, Sunseri threw his third touchdown pass of the half, this one to Mike Shanahan from 30 yards out, putting Pitt firmly in control 21-7.

The Pitt D forced a fourth straight punt and the offense put together a 10-play, 76-yard drive capped by a Dion Lewis one-yard plunge.

A Jared Holley interception put an end to a mini-drive by Syracuse and gave Pitt the ball at their own 32 with 1.30 remaining in the first half.

The Syracuse defense forced a three-and-out to open the second half and drove the ball to the Panthers 20, but Ricky Gary jumped a third down crossing route and returned the interception 80 yards for the touchdown, extending the lead to 35-7.

A Jason Hendricks forced fumble and recovery gave Pitt the ball again midway through the third but Syracuse forced a punt. The third quarter ended with the Orange moving the ball into Pitt territory and they finally punched it into the end zone to make it 35-14 with 13 minutes left.

A 61-yard slant to Jon Baldwin set up a Dan Hutchins 24-yard field goal that extended Pitt's lead to 38-14 with under 10 minutes remaining, and the defense set the offense up yet again when Greg Williams returned a fumble to the Syracuse 6. Sunseri found tight end Brock DeCicco in the end zone to make it 45-14.

Syracuse had one last drive in them and moved inside the Pitt 10, but the Pitt defense held and the Orange turned the ball over on downs.

OFFENSE

On the ground:
Dion Lewis and Ray Graham combined for 133 yards on 26 carries, although sacks limited Pitt to 123 total rushing yards.

In the air: Tino Sunseri had his best game of the season, completing 17-of-24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns. Sunseri distributed the football to eight different recievers and didn't throw an interception. Mike Shanahan caught 4 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and Devin Steet, Ray Graham and Brock DeCicco also caught scoriung strikes from Sunseri.

DEFENSE

The Pitt rush defense, 13th in the nation at 95 ypg entering the contest, limited Syracuse to 77 yards on 25 rushes. Delone Carter, averaging 105 yards per game, was held to 38 yards on 13 carries, an average of just 2.9 per carry. Syracuse did pass for 231 yards, but they threw 46 passes and averaged just 4.9 yards per pass. Ricky Gary and Jared Holley had interceptions, with Gary taking his 80 yards to the house; Jason Hendricks forced and recovered a fumble, and Greg Williams returned an Aaron Donald forced fumble to the 6-yard line late in the game.

GAME BALL

Sunseri was excellent all day, going through his progressions and getting the ball to the open man. He didn't throw an interception and averaged over 11 yards per pass attempt.

UP NEXT

Pitt hosts Rutgers at noon next Saturday. Both teams are 1-0 in Big East play.

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