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Pitt downs Syracuse 30-7 on Senior Day

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Tyler Boyd caught 7 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown, backup running back Chris James ran for 122 yards and the Pitt defense forced three turnovers as the Panthers hammered Syracuse 30-7.

The Panthers sent off their seniors with a much needed win Saturday afternoon. The Syracuse Orange were in town for Senior Day as Pitt was looking to avoid a fourth straight ACC loss. Eleven Pitt seniors were honored in their final home game as Pitt got the victory 30-7.

After a sloppy start to the game, the Panthers recovered a rare fumble by Syracuse running back Prince-Tyson Gulley. Pitt took over at the Syracuse 28 yard line.

Four plays later, James Conner tucked himself into the end zone behind his offensive line as Pitt capped off the short drive with a one-yard touchdown. The touchdown ties Conner with Tony Dorsett for Pitt’s single season touchdown record with 22 on the year.

Conner wouldn’t break the record as he exited the game with a hip injury. He finished with 38 yards and a touchdown.

On Syracuse’s ensuing drive, the Orange were moving the ball down the field with relative ease against the Panthers defense. But the drive stalled when Pitt corner Lafayette Pitts intercepted a jump ball in the end zone from Syracuse quarterback A.J. Long.

The Panthers took their 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt, who has been struggling to hit field goals lately, missed his first two attempts, but with five minutes left in the second quarter the sophomore hit a 46-yarder that gave Pitt a 10-0 lead.

Syracuse struggled with the ball in the first half, with drives finishing in a punt, fumble, interception and punt. But, on their last drive of the half the offense began to click as they marched down to the Pitt 17 yard line only to have their kicker, Cole Murphy, miss a chip shot field goal attempt.

Pitt took over with a minute and thirty seconds left in the half, quarterback Chad Voytik connected with wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a 28-yard catch that jumpstarted the drive.

As the Panthers entered the red zone Voytik hit Syracuse transfer Dontez Ford in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Blewitt added the extra point. Voytik and the Panthers drove 80 yards in 51 seconds to increase their lead to 17-0.

Syracuse got the ball back with 42 seconds left in the half and on their first play from scrimmage backup quarterback, Mitch Kimble’s pass was intercepted by Panther linebacker Bam Bradley who returned the pick to the Syracuse 11 yard line.

The Panthers were not able to capitalize, however, as Voytik was picked off in the end zone by Syracuse corner Antwan Cordy.

Pitt held a 17-0 lead at the half.

Syracuse opened the third quarter with a 75-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by defensive linemen Ron Thompson. Kicker Cole Murphy added the extra point making the score 17-7.

The Panthers got the ball back and proceeded to drive the ball down the field, mostly on the back of freshman running back Chris James, who carried the load for the Panthers after Conner left the game. The drive ended with a 31-yard Blewitt field goal that increased the Pitt lead to 20-7.

The fourth quarter began with another Panthers touchdown when Boyd took a screen pass and received excellent blocking on the outside as he took the ball 49-yards untouched to the end zone. 27-7 Pitt.

Pitt got the ball back after another Syracuse punt, and moved 34 yards down the field to set up Blewitt for another field goal, this one from 46 yards. The Pitt lead increased to 30-7 with nine minutes left in the fourth.

Pitt Chad VoytikThat 30-7 score would hold for those remaining nine minutes as Pitt sent out their seniors with one final win a Heinz Field.

Chad Voytik finished the game 14 of 20 with 189 yards along with two touchdowns and an interception.

Seven of those completed passes were to Tyler Boyd, as he added 126 yards and a touchdown. Dontez Ford added another touchdown.

After losing Conner, Chris James ran for 122 yards while Isaac Bennett added 75 yards.

Pitt goes on the road looking for the all-important sixth win of the season next Saturday against Miami.

CLICK HERE FOR HIGHLIGHTS OF PITT'S 30-7 WIN OVER SYRACUSE

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