Patrick Shadle kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired to give Syracuse a 17-13 halftime lead over Pitt today in the Big East opener for both teams at the Carrier Dome.
Curtis Brinkley, who has 97 yards on 10 carries, made five defenders miss in breaking a 37-yard run to the Pitt 12. But the Orange gained only 5 yards on three plays and elected to take the points.
The field goal followed Pitt’s 10-play, 79-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 2-yard pass from Bill Stull to Dorin Dickerson to cut Syracuse’s lead to 14-13. Conor Lee drilled a 43-yard field goal to make it 14-6 with 12:10 left.
Pitt got a break on its scoring drive when defensive end Mikhail Marinovich was called for a facemask on Stull, whose attempt to throw the ball out of bounds was intercepted. The Panthers converted a third-and-10 on a swing pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling, who gained 14 yards to the Orange 4. Three plays later, Stull found Dickerson for his first career receiving touchdown. Stull has completed 11-of-20 passes for 108 yards, as the Panthers have outgained the Orange, 188-148.
Lee’s 40-yard field goal gave Pitt a 3-0 lead at 10 minutes, 37 seconds of the first quarter, but 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.