SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Pitt scored on its first play from scrimmage and never looked back on the way to a 45-14 rout at Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in its Big East opener.
Tino Sunseri threw a career-high four touchdowns and senior cornerback Ricky Gary returned an interception 80 yards for a score as Pitt (3-3, 1-0 Big East) rebounded from its loss at Notre Dame with a much-needed lopsided victory.
Sunseri completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 266 yards with touchdowns to Devin Street, Ray Graham, Brian Shanahan and Brock DeCicco.
Pitt wasted no time against Syracuse, which was off to its best start since 1999. Sunseri hit Devin Street on a quick hitch and the redshirt freshman wide receiver raced 79 yards for a 7-0 lead 1:30 into the game.
Dion Lewis carried 15 times for 80 yards and Graham added 53 yards on 11 carries, as Pitt snapped the Orange’s (4-2, 1-1 Big East) saw their three-game winning streak in front of 40,168 at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse answered Pitt’s quick-strike touchdown by driving 83 yards for a game-tying 1-yard touchdown run by Delone Carter with 8:59 to play in the first quarter.
But Pitt held Syracuse to three-and-out on each of its next four possessions, while the Panthers scored 28 unanswered points. Sunseri’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Ray Graham put Pitt ahead to stay, 14-7, late in the first quarter. Cam Saddler’s 31-yard punt return set up the touchdown.
After Pitt’s defense held Syracuse to another three-and-out, Sunseri found Brian Shanahan for a 30-yard touchdown to stake the Panthers a 21-7 lead with 9:39 to play in the first half.
Pitt went ahead 28-7 on Dion Lewis’ 1-yard touchdown run with 3:18 to play in the first half.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib completed 25 of 46 passes for 231 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Gary put Pitt up 35-7 with an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown less than five minutes into the first half. Pitt matched its highest point total in a Big East game in more than seven years.