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Pitt bludgeoning USF at half, 31-7

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Pitt quarterback Bill Stull has been nearly perfect today in leading the 20th-ranked Panthers to a 31-7 halftime lead at Heinz Field.

And tailback Dion Lewis has become only the fourth Pitt freshman to rush for 1,000 yards. He reached that milestone with a 48-yard gallop along the right sideline that set up his second 1-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

Stull, completing his first 11 passes, has completed 13 of 17 pass attempts for 191 yards — including scoring passes of 2 yards to tight end Dorin Dickerson and a 40-yarder to split end Jonathan Baldwin.

Lewis, who rushed for 180 yards in Pitt’s win at Rutgers last Saturday, has rushed for 87 yards on 13 carries. Dickerson and Baldwin have complemented a solid rushing attack with a combined seven catches for 136 yards.

The Panthers flexed their muscle on their first possession – an 11-play, 80-yard march that chewed up more than six minutes. Stull capped the drive with a 2-yard pass to seldom-used tight end Mike Cruz with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

The drive was sparked by 20- and 22-yard receptions by Dickerson. The Bulls, though, tripped over themselves as linebackers Kion Wilson and Sabbath Joseph failed to gather in a couple of errant passes by Stull.

The Panthers pushed their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter. Stull took them 60 yards in 4 plays. Flanker Oderick Turner kept alive the drive with a 15-yard catch on third-and-15, then Stull and Baldwin hooked up from 40 yards on the first play of the second quarter.

The bumbling Bulls were penalized eight times for 56 yards in the first half. They generated almost nothing on their first two possessions, but quarterback B.J. Daniels orchestrated an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive to narrow the Pitt lead to 14-7 at 4:18 of the second quarter. Daniels ran four times for 30 yards to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by tailback Mike Ford.

The Panthers scored on all of its first-half possessions. Placekicker Dan Hutchins finished off a 10-play, 47-yard scoring drive with a 36-yard field goal with 2:53 left in the second quarter.

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