Syracuse, a 14-point underdog to Pitt, scored two unanswered touchdowns for a 14-3 first-quarter lead this afternoon in the Big East opener for both teams at the Carrier Dome.
Pitt opened with a 10-play drive highlighted by a 10-yard pass to tight end Dorin Dickerson on third-and-4 at the Syracuse 38 before settling for a 40-yard Conor Lee field goal for a 3-0 lead at 10 minutes, 37 seconds.
Mike Holmes returned the ensuing kickoff by Lucas Briggs 90 yards for a touchdown 10 seconds later to give the Orange a 7-3 lead. It marked the first time an opponent returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Pitt since the 2001 Tangerine Bowl, when North Carolina State’s Gregory Golden also scored on a 90-yard return.
Syracuse then forced a three-and-out, and took over at its own 45. Curtis Brinkley gained 24 yards on five carries before Cameron Dantley threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Donte Davis for a 14-3 lead at 5:42.
Syracuse was in Pitt territory again when it made a major gaffe. With a third-and-1 at the 38, the Orange attempted a pass to the end zone that was broken up. On fourth down, however, Syracuse tried to lure Pitt offsides and drew a deal-of-game penalty that forced a punt.
The quarter ended with Pitt on a first down at its own 40.