Game Recap: Pitt vs. Duke (11/1/14)
By: Jake Hollander
Seemingly replicating their match up from just a year ago, the Panthers and the Blue Devils put on an offensive show.
No one expected coming into this game that Pitt would give No. 24 Duke a run for their money, but the Panthers were a 26-yard kick away from pulling off the upset victory on a cold Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.
The game began with big play after big play in the first half, as each team was able to create long drives almost always ending in scores.
The Blue Devils struck first. Star receiver Jamison Crowder made his presence felt early and often in this game, starting with a 39-yard touchdown reception about midway through the opening quarter. James Conner got the scoring started for Pitt with a one-yard touchdown run shortly after to tie the game at seven, but Duke tacked on another touchdown off a 10-yard pass from QB Anthony Boone to Shaun Wilson to put the Blue Devils up once again, 14-7.
In the second quarter, Pitt QB Chad Voytik was instrumental in the Panthers’ offensive success. Voytik found the end zone with his legs ten seconds into the second quarter from 13 yards out for a score to tie the game at 14.
Voytik finally utilized his talented tight end, J.P. Holtz, and found him in the end zone twice in the second quarter. Holtz finished that game with two receptions for 14 yards and two touchdowns. But, as good as the Pitt offense was in the second quarter, the Duke offense matched every score. Crowder got into the end zone once again off a 45-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Boone. Back-up QB Thomas Sirk ended the first half with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28 heading into the second half.
Each team added a field goal and a touchdown to the scoring barrage in the second half, including another James Conner touchdown run and a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Duke’s DeVon Edwards.
Pitt marched down the field at the end of regulation and set themselves up for a clutch victory with two seconds remaining in the contest.
The Panthers were two seconds away from beating the Duke Blue Devils at Heinz Field. Chris Blewitt came onto the field with two seconds left to attempt a 26-yard field goal that would have given the Panthers a 41-38 win over the Blue Devils, but then the jitters kicked in.
Duke called two timeouts to ice Pitt’s almost perfect kicker Chris Blewitt, and it appeared to have a huge impact on him. As if the season couldn’t get any worse, it did. Just when the Panthers needed a field goal most, Chris Blewitt, indeed, blew it and missed the potential game winner from the right hash mark. After an exchange of touchdowns in the first overtime, Blewitt connected on a FG in double overtime, but the Blue Devils came marching down to field and pushed Thomas Sirk into the end zone to seal the victory in double overtime.
Some notable performances include James Conner, who rushed for 263 yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns. Chad Voytik threw for 236 yards on 16 attempts and two touchdowns, both being thrown to tight end J.P. Holtz. The talented sophomore Tyler Boyd reeled in seven receptions for 140 yards.
Looking at the stats, it is unbelievable to see that the Panthers lost this game. The time of possession favored the Panthers by over 20 minutes. However, old habits die hard, and the Panthers committed eight penalties for 61 yards. It’s hard to win football games when you shoot yourself in the foot.
The big difference in this game was DeVon Edwards 99-yard kickoff return for a TD. It seems like this season the Panthers seem to be the most consistent at being inconsistent. Once they fix the penalties, the special teams screw up, once the fix the run game the passing game is ineffective, etc. Once they fix one aspect of their game, another part of the game seems to fall apart. And just when we don’t expect the Panthers to beat the No. 24 team in the country, they almost do.
Some notable performances for the Blue Devils include Anthony Boone, the Duke QB, who threw 23 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns. He was also their leading rusher with 47 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Jamison Crowder was a huge problem for the Panthers on defense, as he hauled in nine receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
This was a dogfight just like it was last year, except the Panthers did not win this one, surprisingly. I’m not going to blame a loss on one player because a team can win a game in many ways and by bigger margins other than by a field goal, but Chris Blewitt needs to make that field goal. It was a chip shot. But, as coach Paul Chryst said, “I have a ton of faith in him, we are going to need him again.” I hope Chryst is right.
Player of the Game: Pitt RB James Conner – 38 carries, 263 yds, 3 TD