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Football Dominates Gardner-Webb, 55-10

Ray Graham runs past Gardner-Webb linebacker Bradley Taylor.

Ray Graham runs past Gardner-Webb linebacker Bradley Taylor.

Sept. 22, 2012

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PITTSBURGH (AP) - Tino Sunseri passed for 344 yards and three touchdowns to lead Pittsburgh past overmatched Gardner-Webb 55-10 on Saturday.

Mike Shanahan caught five passes for a career-high 144 yards and two scores for the Panthers (2-2), who shook off a slow start to crush the Runnin' Bulldogs (0-4).

Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he wasn't concerned about a letdown after the Panthers upset Virginia Tech a week ago. The Panthers let Gardner-Webb - a Football Championship Subdivision school - hang around for a quarter before pulling away behind Sunseri.

Kamar Morrison returned a Ray Graham fumble 65 yards for a Gardner-Webb touchdown late in the first half. It was one of the few bright spots for the Runnin' Bulldogs, who were outgained 626-127.

Gardner-Webb moved the ball a little bit on each of its first two drives and actually had a chance to take an early lead but Trever Austin's 40-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.

One play later the Panthers were in front. Graham took a handoff from Sunseri, stutter-stepped at the line of scrimmage then sprinted 78 yards for a score. A lengthy kickoff return by J.J. Hubbard put the Runnin' Bulldogs in scoring position, and Austin hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 7-3.

The Panthers ripped off the next 17 points, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge by freshman running back Rushel Shell and a pretty 34-yard strike from Sunseri to Devin Street.

Pitt's only slipup came on a rare miscue by Graham, who fumbled while getting tackled late in the second quarter. Morrison, a senior cornerback, scooped up the loose ball and raced down the sideline for the score to make it 24-10.

The Panthers tacked on a short field goal by Kevin Harper on the final play of the first half to make it 27-10 at the break then poured it on in the third quarter. Sunseri hit Shanahan for a 4-yard score on Pitt's first possession of the second half and the two hooked up again later in the quarter.

Shanahan did most of the work this time, hauling in a short crossing route then heading toward the sideline, where a great block by Street gave Shanahan enough space to finish off a 77-yard catch-and-run.