In a battle of in-state rivals, the Penn State Nittany Lions jumped out to a early 14 point lead and never looked back to beat the Pitt Panthers 33-14 in a game that was nowhere near as competitive as the score indicated. The tone of the game was set on Pitt’s opening drive when Penn State cornerback Grant Haley intercepted Max Browne and returned it to the Pitt 8 yard line to set up the first of two touchdown connections from Trace McSorley to Mike Gesicki. The Panthers only scoring drive in the first half was a 15 play, 77 yard drive that led to a Alex Kessman 28 yard field goal. The game was put out of reach on a 46 yard catch and run by Saquon Barkley for the first of his two second half touchdowns. Ben DiNucci ran in a meaningless 3 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after Browne got a cut in his forehead and his helmet popped off. Penn State recorded a safety and a field goal to end the scoring for the afternoon.
Here are some takeaways and observations from Saturday afternoon’s game
Max Browne continues to struggle, going 19 for 32 with two first half interceptions, and struggled with the pressure of the Penn State pass rush. Browne was sacked three times and was hurried and pressured even more. Fans are calling for DiNucci to replace Max Browne because he is the more mobile of the two quarterbacks and he was able to make plays, like on the fourth quarter scramble for a touchdown. DiNucci was 5 for 9 for 49 yards and was able to shake off the pressure caused by the Penn State defense. This will be a interesting matter moving forward whether Pat Narduzzi goes with the sophomore Pine-Richland product out of necessity as the Panthers’ offensive line continues to struggle.
Player of the game: Qadree Ollison
Ollison was the lone bright spot for the Panthers on offense with 15 carries of 96 yards and two receptions for 30 yards including a 17 yard run on their first scoring drive and a 32 yard run to set up their second field goal of the game.
The Panthers for the second straight week struggled to cover running backs and tight ends in the passing game. However they turned out a better performance than they did last week against Youngstown State. Pitt’s defense got put into difficult situations all afternoon, whether it be turnovers or special teams mistakes, to flip field position for Penn State. Penn State punted six times and had three and outs despite their upper hand in field position. The Panthers did the best they could going toe to toe against Penn State’s firepower, but they needed help from the offense and the coverage units on special teams.
Player of the game: Linebacker Oluwaseun Adowa
Adowa had 7 tackles, three for losses and a forced a fumble on Miles Sanders that Penn State recovered.
Pitt outgained Penn State 342-312, got more first downs (24-14) and almost doubled the Nittany Lions in time of possession 38:20 to 21:40, but they had three turnovers to Penn State’s one and they had six penalties for 55 yards to one for 15 yards for Penn State.
Next Saturday the 10th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys will come to Heinz Field in a rematch of last season 45-38 shootout in Stillwater won by the Cowboys.