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Pitt back on track with win over USF

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Dion Lewis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, Ray Graham added 44 yards on the ground a touchdown reception, and Pitt's defense held South Florida to 285 total yards as Pitt won 17-10 in Tampa

Pitt 17 - South Florida 10

Dion Lewis rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown as Pitt beat South Florida 17-10 to retain sole possession of first place in the Big East.

The Panthers (6-4, 4-1) rebounded from a two-point loss to Connecticut to remain in control of the crowded conference race. They can clinch the title and the league's automatic Bowl Championship Series bowl berth by winning their remaining games against West Virginia and Cincinnati.

Receiver Terrence Mitchell scored on a 45-yard TD run for USF (6-4, 3-3), however the Bulls got little production out of their passing game. B.J. Daniels completed 15 of 29 passes for 132 yards, and his final attempt was intercepted on the game's final play.

Tino Sunseri threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ray Graham in the third quarter, then helped Pitt put the game away in the closing minutes with a 12-yard completion to Devin Street on third-and-9 and an 18-yard quarterback keeper that took more time off the clock.

The possession ended with Dan Hutchins missing a 43-yard field goal attempt, however the impressive drive that started at Pitt's 10 and ended at USF's 26 left Daniels with just 1:31 to try to bring the Bulls back.

A pass interference call near midfield--the fifth of the afternoon on Pitt's secondary--gave USF a first down near midfield, however Daniels was unable to get his team into position to possibly tie the game.

Cornerback Antwuan Reed, flagged for pass interference four times, intercepted Daniels' final throw as time expired. Pitt finished with 11 penalties for 116 yards.

The 100-yard game was just the second of the season for Lewis, who rushed for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman a year ago. He broke three tackles on his scoring run that snapped a 10-10 tie on the first play of the fourth quarter.

USF, which had won three straight games, rushed for 153 yards, with Moise Plancher leading the way with 67 yards on 13 attempts.

The Bulls battled back from losing their first two conference games to beat Cincinnati, Rutgers and Louisville to climb back into contention for the league title with Pitt, as well as three other teams--Syracuse, West Virginia and Connecticut--that entered Saturday with two conference losses.

GAME FLOW

Pitt took an early 3-0 lead behind eight straight Dion Lewis carries, accounting for all 41 yards of Pitt's 10-play, 41-yard march that ended with Dan Hutchins' 36-yard field goal.

South Florida countered with Maikon Bonani's 35-yarder on the first play of the second quarter.

That was all the scoring until Pitt too over following a South Florida punt, taking over at their own 26. Tino Sunseri found Mike Shanahan twice for 56 yards, sandwiched around two Ray Graham rushed fof 17 yards. On a third-and-2 from the USF 12, Sunseri checked down to Graham and hit the tailback out of the backfield for a 12 yard TD.

USF answered immediately, taking advantage of two pass interference penalties on Reed before Terrence Mitchell took an end around 45 yards to paydirt to tie the score.

Pitt then drove 58 yards in nine plays, regaining the lead after Lewis' 22-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring at 17-10.

OFFENSE

On the ground: Lewis carried 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, and Graham added 44 on 10 carries. Pitt ran for 150 yards on the game, while USF put up 153.

In the air: Sunseri only threw 16 passes but competed 11 for 142 yards and a toucbdown, and no interceptions. Mike Shanahan was the team's leading receiver with 3 catches for 68 yards. USF's Daniels throw for 132 yards and on interception.

DEFENSE

Pitt kept USF to under 300 yards on the game and Reed had the game's only turnover, an intercepetion on the final play.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Pitt didn't allow a return for a touchdown,  but they did committ a running into the kicker penalty that kept a USF drive alive. Andrew Taglianetti blocked a pubt for the Panthers. Dan Hutchins was 1-2 on field goals and 2-2 on PATS. Cam Saddler returned a punt 28 yards, and Ray Graham ran a back punt 30 yards.

GAME BALL

Lewis accounted for every yard on PItt's first drive, totalled 106 yards on the day, and had a highlight-reel touchdown run.

NEXT UP

The Backyard Brawl - Pitt hosts WVU next Friday at noon.

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