ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Pitt ran roughshod over Navy, as LeSean McCoy dashed into the school’s record books in a 42-21 victory over Navy before a record standing-room-only crowd of 37,970 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The No. 23 Panthers (5-1) compiled season-highs of 244 rushing yards and 499 total yards, as McCoy ran for a season-high 156 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries against a Navy defense that had been allowing only 124.5 rushing yards a game.
After rushing for 331 yards and gaining 497 total yards in a 48-45 double-overtime victory at Pitt last season, Navy (4-3) finished with 251 yards total offense, 131.7 below its season average. The Midshipmen were ranked second in the nation in rushing, at 313.5 yards a game, but gained only 194 without the services of starting senior quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (hamstring).
McCoy moved into 10th place among the school’s all-time leading rushers, with 2,017 yards in 18 games. He passed Joe McCall, who had 1,978 yards from 1980-83, and needs 2 yards to pass Charles Gladman (2,019 yards, ’84-86) to move into ninth place.
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 others, Ball State and Duke, handed the Midshipmen their previous losses.
Navy answered with a Shun White 40-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:19 left. The Midshipmen needed only six plays and 2:42 to drive 63 yards and extend its streak of scoring on its first possession to seven games this season.
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.
Pitt saw its red-zone perfection end at 20 when Stull threw an interception to Navy cornerback Rashawn King, who returned it 91 yards to the Panthers’ 8. Jarod Bryant scored on the next play to cut Pitt’s lead to 21-14 with 10:22 remaining in the second.
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.
McCoy broke a season-long 58-yard touchdown run with 1:04 remaining in the half to give the Panthers a 21-point cushion. Pitt added a 60-yard touchdown pass from Stull to Baldwin for a 42-14 advantage with 14:01 remaining in the game.
Ricky Dobbs completed a 39-yard pass to Mario Washington to the Pitt 4 in the final minute, then scored on a 4-yard run to make it 42-21 with 20 seconds remaining.