EAST HARTFORD, CONN. – The NCAA’s top rusher and top scorer turned a sleeper into a showstopper, as Connecticut’s Donald Brown matched Pitt’s LeSean McCoy touchdown run for touchdown run.
But the most pivotal plays of the third quarter came by Pitt quarterback Bill Stull, who threw a 61-yard scoring pass to receiver Derek Kinder and a 28-yarder to tight end Nate Byham for a 27-10 lead over Connecticut after three quarters of their Big East Conference finale today at Rentschler Field.
Pitt broke a 3-3 halftime tie when McCoy followed a block by right guard John Malecki and sprinted 47 yards up the middle for a touchdown to give the Panthers a 10-3 lead with 9:52 left in the third.
Pitt linebacker Greg Williams intercepted a Tyler Lorenzen pass and returned it 41 yards to the Connecticut 7. Three plays later, Conor Lee kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 13-3 lead with 6:24 left in the quarter.
It was the second field goal of the game for Lee, who extended his single-season school record to 20 and his career record to 50.
But Brown responded with a 57-yard run, stiff-arming safeties Eric Thatcher and Dom DeCicco along the way to cut the Huskies deficit to 13-10 with 4:29 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Stull hit Kinder for a touchdown with 4:11 left in the quarter.
Pitt took a 3-0 lead after Michael Toerper blocked a Desi Cullen punt at the Connecticut 7 at 13:13 of the second quarter. It was the 10th blocked kick of the season for the Panthers, extending their single-season school record.
The Panthers settled for a 21-yard field goal by Lee, who broke the school single-season mark set by Carson Long in 1976 and since tied by Josh Cummings (2004) and Lee (’07).
Connecticut answered with an 11-play, 43-yard drive capped by David Teggart’s 45-yard field goal that tied the game at 3-3 with 5:30 remaining in the half.