ANNAPOLIS, Md. — LeSean McCoy scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, as Pitt took a 35-14 halftime lead over Navy this afternoon before a record standing-room-only crowd of 37,970 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
McCoy broke a season-long 58-yard scoring run with 1:04 remaining in the half to give the Panthers a 21-point cushion. He has 14 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns against a Navy defense that had been allowing 124.5 rushing yards a game.
The Panthers have outgained the Midshipmen, 354-116, in the first half.
It was the most points Navy has allowed in the first half this season.
Pitt was in position to score on its fourth consecutive drive before Navy cornerback Rashawn King intercepted a Bill Stull pass intended for T.J. Porter and returned it 91 yards to the Panthers’ 8. It was the third-longest interception return in Navy history.
Jarod Bryant scored on the next play to cut Pitt’s lead to 21-14 with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter. The Panthers, however, answered with a 29-yard kickoff return by Aundre Wright and a seven-play, 49-yard scoring drive highlighted by Porter’s 24-yard reception and McCoy’s 11-yard touchdown run for a 28-14 lead at 8:04.
LaRod Stephens-Howling opened the scoring on a 6-yard run to give Pitt a 7-0 lead. The touchdown run capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive that saw the Panthers make three successful third-down conversions, a 6-yard pass to tight end John Pelusi, a 4-yard run by McCoy and a 34-yard screen pass to McCoy to the Navy 6.
It was only the third time an opponent scored on the opening drive against Navy this season. The other two, Ball State and Duke, handed the Midshipmen their only losses.
Navy answered with a Shun White 40-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:19 left. Despite missing starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (hamstring), the Midshipmen needed only six plays and 2:42 to drive 63 yards. Navy has scored on its first possession in every game this season, with four touchdowns and three field goals.
Stull’s 43-yard pass to Jonathan Baldwin to the Navy 9 set up McCoy’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead with 4:34 left. Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard then forced a fumble by sacking Navy quarterback Jarod Bryant and defensive tackle Gus Mustakas — starting in place of Mick Williams (concussion) – at the Navy 17.
Stephens-Howling scored three plays later, on a 9-yard run for a 21-7 lead.