Sept. 1, 2007
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Bill Stull completed his first seven passes in his first college start to prop up a Pittsburgh offense with the Panthers winning an unevenly played opener against Eastern Michigan 27-3 on Saturday night.
Stull, a junior who backed up three-year starter Tyler Palko last season, was 14-of-20 for 177 yards and a touchdown on a 21-yard completion to Oderick Turner in the second quarter that allowed the Panthers (1-0) to open a 14-3 lead.
Stull, a former Pittsburgh high school star, gave the Panthers a scare when he was pulled late in the third quarter after injuring his right thumb on a handoff. He was taken to the locker room for X-rays and had a bandage and an ice pack on his thumb after returning to the bench, but could be seen laughing with teammates and apparently was not seriously hurt.
The Panthers' running game had only 19 yards on 13 carries at halftime. Stull attempted only 10 passes last season, and is one of the most inexperienced Pitt starting quarterbacks in a quarter-century.
Stull found a rhythm early, hitting Marcel Pestano for a 41-yard gain late in the first quarter for a first down at the 24. Stull then found tight end Darrell Strong for 19 yards to the 1, where Shane Brooks scored the first of his two 1-yard TD runs.
Pitt averaged fewer than two yards a carry until LaRod Stephens-Howling ran for 30 yards to the Eagles' 33 the play after Stull was injured. With Stull out, Pitt stayed mostly on the ground as freshman LeSean McCoy finished with 68 yards on 10 carries in his first college game. Stephens-Howling ran for 67 yards on 16 carries, with nearly half his yardage on that single carry.
Eastern Michigan, which won only one game a year ago during an 11th consecutive losing season, never got anything going offensively after taking an early 3-0 lead on a 27-yard Sean Dutcher field goal. On that drive, a wide-open freshman tight end Josh LeDuc dropped an apparent touchdown pass at the goal line and the Eagles never got close to the end zone again during a sixth consecutive loss over two seasons. Advertisement
The Eagles' Andy Schmitt was 16-of-27 for 106 yards an a touchdown but didn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards. Only one Eagles rusher, Pierre Walker with 30 yards, had more than 5 yards rushing. Pitt led 325-145 in total yardage and 130-39 in rushing yards, with all but 19 yards in the second half.
Pitt won for the 10th time in its last 11 season openers. The Panthers started 6-1 a season ago, but lost their final five to go 6-6 and miss out on a bowl game under coach Dave Wannstedt.
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