Pitt’s Pickett tosses for 372 yards
STATE COLLEGE – Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 17-10 victory over Pitt on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:
PLAY OF THE GAME: On 2nd-and-goal from the Penn State 1, with 6 minutes left and the Nittany Lions leading 17-10, Garrett Taylor stopped Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who had a head of steam, for no gain.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Pickett’s tenacity kept the Panthers in the game. He completed 35 of 51 for 372 yards, 17 passing first downs and no interceptions. He also ran nine times for a net gain of seven yards.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Penn State linebacker Cam Brown made seven tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and broke up a pass. He was also credited with two quarterback hurries, including on 3rd-and-goal from the PSU 1 in the fourth quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Penn State punter Blake Gillikin averaged 42.4 yards on seven punts with a long of 53. He placed four inside the 20.
MOST TELLING STATISTIC: The Lions’ defense limited Pitt to 24 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
MOST DECEIVING STATISTIC: Pitt owned time of possession, 34:16-25:44.
HIDDEN STATISTIC: Penn State’s average starting field position was its 16. Pitt’s was its 20.
BEST RUN: Journey Brown broke two tackles and sprinted 85 yards to the Pitt 12.
BEST PASS: Pickett found Dontavius Butler-Jenkins up the left sideline for 27 yards late in the second quarter to the Lions’ 3, setting up Pitt’s first touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
WORST PASS: Sean Clifford had KJ Hamler open over the middle in the third quarter for a big gain and missed him.
BEST CATCH: Pitt’s Taysir Mack went up for a 29-yard reception to the PSU 1 with 6:04 remaining. Mack made 12 catches on the day for 125 yards.
CATCH IT, WILL YA?: Hamler and Journey Brown dropped passes in the first quarter. Garrett Taylor dropped a possible interception in the second quarter and Jaquan Brisker missed one in the fourth quarter.
HOLD IT, WON’T YA?: Other than Clifford fumbling on a blindside hit, Penn State didn’t fumble.
BEST BLOCKS: Pitt’s Maurice Ffrench sealed Lion corner John Reid, which sprung A.J. Davisí 48-yard burst with a screen pass. Michal Menet helped blow open a hole up the middle for Noah Cain’s 13-yard go-ahead touchdown run (17-10) in the third quarter.
BEST TACKLE: There were a bunch of solid one-on-one tackles in this game. Pitt blitzed and Phil Campbell III drilled Clifford and forced a fumble that Menet alertly recovered on PSU’s first possession. Shaka Toney’s late 7-yard sack in the last minute kept Pitt scrambling.
BEST HIT: Pitt corner Paris Ford nailed Mac Hippenhammer on an over-the-middle pattern, shaking loose an incompletion late in the second quarter.
BEST KICK: Penn State kicker Jordan Stout made a 57-yard field goal with 1 second left in the first half to tie the game at 10. Stout’s FG is a new PSU record, breaking Chris Bahr’s 55 (he did it three times in 1975). Give Pitt punter Kirk Cristodoulou credit for a good day, including his 62-yarder early and four inside the PSU 20.
WORST KICK: Down 17-10, Alex Kessman missed a 19-yard field goal, clanking it off the left upright, with 4:54 remaining.
WORST PENALTY: Lion gunner Dan Chisena was called for interference on Ffrench’s attempt to field a punt in the fourth quarter, costing the Lions 15 yards.
BEST CALL: On 3rd-and-8 from the PSU 15 late in the first half, Clifford hit Ricky Slade out of the backfield for 48 yards, setting up Stout’s long field goal.
WORST CALL: Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, down 17-10 and facing 4th-and-goal at the Penn State 1, opted for a field goal attempt (which missed) with 4:54 left. Even if the field goal was made, the Panthers still needed a touchdown to win.
BEST EFFORT: With Pitt defensive end Deslin Alexander bearing down on him, Clifford endured a big hit and unleashed a 52-yard bomb to Chisena, who couldn’t quite reel in a leaping catch.
UNSUNG HERO: Stout not only made the 57-yard field goal, but was 4 for 4 in touchbacks.