Panthers wash Zips; Peterman shines
By: Roger SinClair
Not even a monsoon in Ohio could keep the Panthers from enacting revenge on the Akron Zips.
Pitt defeated Akron last night by a final score of 24-7, avenging last season 21-10 home loss to the Zips. The Panthers are now 2-0 under coach Narduzzi, earning a momentous road win after losing James Conner to a season ending MCL injury earlier in the week.
The first half was very sloppy for both teams, especially Pitt. Chad Voytik was unable to lead the Panthers to a touchdown, his first two trips to the red zone resulted in only three points. After Akron’s Conor Hundley scored a touchdown to give Akron a 7-3 lead, Narduzzi pulled Voytik in favor of Nathan Peterman. The results were incredibly positive as the Panthers proceeded to outscore Akron 21-0 from that point on.
Peterman made an immediate impact, leading the Panthers down the field and capping the drive with an 18-yard pass to JP Holtz for a touchdown. Peterman would finish the game 12-17 for 148 yards and one touchdown. Coach Narduzzi said the team would continue to use the two-quarterback system next week against Iowa, however when the performance of one quarterback (Peterman) is far better than the other (Voytik), at some point there needs to be a decision on a definite starting QB. An interesting quarterback quandary is developing, but Coach Narduzzi seems to get the best out of both of his signal callers.
In addition to the quarterback drama, Tyler Boyd, Qadree Ollison and freshman Darrin Hall all had very productive games. In Boyd’s first game since his suspension for an off the field issue, the junior wideout finished with 11 catches for 95 yards, proving his necessity for the passing games’ success. Ollison finished with 81 rushing yards and a score in the third quarter, adding to his breakout performance last week against Youngstown State. With Chris James still ailing from an injury, Darrin Hall impressed many people by gaining 77 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown. The freshman stepped up to give some production as the second running back, and added major value to this squad. In a game where footing was hard to achieve with a soaked Summa Field at InfoCision Stadium, all three of these guys helped greatly in the team’s offensive production.
There were questions to what Pitt’s defense would look like after conceding 37 points to Youngstown State – those questions were answered by a dominating performance through much of the game. The Panthers only allowed 7 points and 110 total yards. Pitt’s secondary played very well, only allowing 6 completions from two Akron quarterbacks. While Akron isn’t exactly a juggernaut on offense, Coach Narduzzi will be very happy with how his defense is looking heading into next weekend’s match-up against Iowa.
Pat Narduzzi’s impact has been felt immediately in Oakland. While there are still questions about the quarterback position and how greatly the team will miss having James Conner in the backfield, Pitt demonstrated tonight that they wouldn’t fall into a trap game versus a non-conference opponent. Narduzzi has this team hitting its stride heading into another pivotal road game against Iowa, and momentum is in the Panthers’ favor after last night’s win.