SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Pitt opened the second half with a scoring drive capped by LaRod Stephens-Howling’s 4-yard run, then relied on a stout defense to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 17-10 after three quarters.
Pitt opened the second half with an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive kept alive by a Notre Dame personal-foul penalty on third-and-8 and highlighted by a 37-yard Pat Bostick pass to Oderick Turner on fourth-and-1 at the Irish 41. Stephens-Howling scored with 10:55 left.
The Panthers then held the Irish to three consecutive three-and-outs in the third quarter. They forced two third-and-15s, stopping Armando Allen once on a screen pass and again on a draw, before ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard pressured Jimmy Clausen into an incompletion on third-and-8.
Pitt starts the fourth quarter on the Notre Dame 38.
The Fighting Irish took a 14-point lead into halftime after Michael Floyd followed a spectacular catch by Golden Tate with a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard scoring play with 1:27 remaining. It capped a nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive.
The play was set up by Tate’s third-and-12 catch, where the ball was tipped by cornerback Aaron Berry and deflected off the fingertips of safety Dom DeCicco into those of Tate for a 47-yard gain to the Pitt 32.
Pat Bostick, who started for the injured Bill Stull, then had a pass intercepted by cornerback Raeshon McNeil, who returned it 43 yards to the Pitt 13. Four plays later, Clausen hit Floyd in the upper left corner for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead with four seconds remaining in the half.
Pitt drove from its own 12 to the Irish 26 before bungling two key plays. McCoy reversed field on a second-and-5, but was tackled for a 9-yard loss. On third-and-14, Bostick tangled with center C.J. Davis and tripped for a 5-yard loss. The Panthers were forced to punt from the Notre Dame 40.
The Irish answered with the first of their two second-quarter scoring drives.
Notre Dame opened the game with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that saw the Fighting Irish stall at the Pitt 21 and settle for a Brandon Walker 39-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Pitt freshman safety Andrew Taglianetti blocked Eric Maust’s punt, and linebacker Nate Nix recovered at the Notre Dame 20 at the 7:25 mark. It was the seventh blocked kick of the season for the Panthers, the second for Taglianetti, who also partially blocked a punt against Iowa.
Conor Lee’s 35-yard field goal tied the score at 3-3 with 5:58 left in the first.