No. 15 Pitt falls to Utah, 27-24, in overtime
SALT LAKE CITY – Facing one of its most daunting opening games in years, Pitt made a spirited fourth-quarter rally before falling to Utah, 27-24, in overtime in front of a packed Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Joe Phillips kicked a 21-yard field goal in the first overtime as Utah won its 18th consecutive home game and improved to 8-0 against Big East teams.
Pitt (0-1) had erased a 24-13 deficit with less than eight minutes to play, forcing overtime on kicker Dan Hutchins’ 30-yard field as time expired.
But Tino Sunseri underthrew Mike Shanahan and was intercepted by true freshman safety Brian Blechen on the first play of the first overtime. Utah (1-0), starting at the Pitt 25 as per NCAA overtime rules, drove to the Pitt 4, where Phillips ended Pitt’s comeback hopes.
Pitt forced three turnovers and blocked a punt, but the Panthers committed 12 penalties for 75 yards and settled for two field goals after having first-and-goal in the second half.
Sunseri finished 16 of 28 for 184 yards and one touchdown and interception. Dion Lewis rushed for 75 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
Pitt’s other All-America candidate, Baldwin. caught four passes for 71 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown with 7:11 to play that got Pitt back into the game.
Utah sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 21 of 36 pass attempts for 283 yards and three touchdowns. DeVonte Christopher caught eight passes for 155 yards and one 61-yarder.
Trailing 24-13, Pitt got back to within three points with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Sunseri to Baldwin and their ensuing two-point conversion to make it 24-21 with 7:11 to play.
Pitt’s defense held – despite a controversial pass interference penalty call on Panther defensive back Ricky Gary on third-and-10 – and got the ball back at midfield after Utah punter Sean Sellwood’s 25-yard punt with 2:39 to play.
A 20-yard catch by Mike Shanahan from Sunseri moved Pitt to the Utah 14 with 40 seconds to play. After a pair of incompletions and a 1-yard run by Dion Lewis, Hutchins overcame some mind tricks by Whittingham to kick his third field goal of the game to force overtime.
Whittingham called two timeouts just as Hutchins kicked – the first one Hutchins made, the second one he missed wide left – before the second-team all-Big East kicker booted a clean 30-yarder for make it 24-all.