Following the lead of a pair of freshmen in the backfield, Pitt rolled to a 34-10 victory over Grambling State this afternoon before 30,852 at Heinz Field.
The Panthers (2-0) got big performances from redshirt freshman quarterback Kevan Smith, who replaced the injured Bill Stull (thumb), and true freshman tailback LeSean McCoy, who didn’t start but filled in when LaRod Stephens-Howling left the game with an injury.
Smith, a Seneca Valley graduate, completed 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Smith connected with tight end Nate Byham on a 50-yard scoring pass and had a long of 61 yards on a post pattern to receiver Oderick Turner.
It was the most yards in a starting debut by a Panthers freshman quarterback since Pitt started keeping track of such statistics in 1979. Smith was replaced early in the fourth quarter by true freshman Pat Bostick, whose first pass was intercepted.
True freshman tailback LeSean McCoy rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries, scoring on first-quarter touchdown runs of 5, 7 and 13 yards. McCoy is the first freshman tailback to reach the century mark since LaRod Stephens-Howling had 101 in a 34-17 win over Syracuse on Oct. 22, 2005.
Pitt kicker Conor Lee added field goals of 20 and 27 yards.
Grambling scored on a 29-yard pass from Brandon Landers to Clyde Edwards and a 35-yard field goal by Tim Manuel.
Pitt outgained Division I-AA Grambling (1-1), 312-233, and stopped the Tigers three times inside the 10-yard line.