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Panthers Stunned By Youngstown State, 31-17

Quarterback Tino Sunseri

Quarterback Tino Sunseri

Sept. 1, 2012

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Pittsburgh (AP) - Kurt Hess passed for 154 yards and two touchdowns as Youngstown State of the Football Championship Subdivision spoiled Paul Chryst's debut as Pittsburgh's coach in a 31-17 upset on Saturday night in the season opener for both schools.

"My hat goes off to Youngstown State," Chryst said. "They are very well coached. They're a good team. Tonight, they were the better team."

The Penguins never trailed using a spread offense that kept the Panthers off balance during a soggy night at Heinz Field. Youngstown State converted 11 of 16 third downs and held the ball for more than 35 minutes.

"I don't want to take anything away from their victory, but that's not the real Pitt out there," said Panthers defensive back Andrew Taglianetti. "It's definitely frustrating that you work so hard on first and second down and then third down comes up and they were converting them."

Tino Sunseri threw for 239 yards and a score for Pitt.

Pitt committed two turnovers including one by senior running back Ray Graham deep in Youngstown State territory.

"I don't feel like we were dominated," Chryst said. "I don't feel like we were getting hammered. But we did not dominate, by any means, either side of the ball."

Graham returned from a torn ACL in his right knee that cut short his 2011 season to rush for 71 yards on 14 carries.

Youngstown State, which won four FCS titles in the '90s, is looking to rebuild under third-year coach Eric Wolford. The Penguins scored the first two times it had the ball en route to a 14-10 halftime lead, putting together scoring drives of 79 and 92 yards.

Hess took the Penguins downfield to open the second half and faced a fourth-and-1 from the Pitt 23. Hess pitched the ball to tailback Jamaine Cook, who pulled up and hit a wide open Will Shaw for a score to put the Penguins up 21-10.

"We weren't going to kick it," Wolford said.

Pitt tried to answer Youngstown State's score with a gamble of its own midway through the third quarter. Hess responded by guiding another lengthy drive, capped by 13-yard burst by Stubbs that gave Youngstown State a 28-10 lead.

Though the Panthers pulled within 28-17 on a 35-yard strike from Sunseri to Joshua Brinson, they would get no closer. Youngstown State added a late field goal for the final margin of 31-17.

"It's in our hands to go forward," Chryst said. "I believe this group can go forward and we will go forward."