Dec. 26, 2013
- In the Panthers’ 30th all-time postseason appearance, the University of Pittsburgh football team (7-6) defeated Bowing Green (10-4) by the score of 30-27 in a wild Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Thursday evening at Ford Field in Detroit.
- Chris Blewitt broke the game’s third tie with a 39-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining to put the Panthers up 30-27. On the ensuing Falcon’s possession, college football’s best defensive player Aaron Donald came up with an 11 yard sack on second down and Tyrone Ezell followed that up with another sack on third down. Bowling Green was unable to convert a 4th-and-40 and Pitt won its first bowl game since 2010.
- Pitt freshman running back James Conner was named the game’s MVP for breaking Tony Dorsett’s bowl rushing record. Conner carried the ball 26 times for 229 yards and had one touchdown. He broke Dorsett’s record of 202 yards of which he set in the 1977 Sugar Bowl, the year Pitt won the National Championship. The 229 yards was a career-high for Conner, as was his 45 yard run in the beginning of the third quarter. Conner finished his freshman campaign with 799 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, both are team-highs.
- Freshman Tyler Boyd also had a monster game, finishing with eight catches for 173 yards. With his second reception of the game (a catch for 19 yards), he broke Larry Fitzgerald’s freshman receiving yard record of 1,005 yards which Fitzgerald set in 2002. Boyd’s stat line tonight gives him 85 catches for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns during his standout freshman year. Boyd finished his amazing first season at Pitt setting freshmen records for receptions (85), receiving yards (1,174) and 100-yard games (5). The 173 yards tonight also broke Pitt’s bowl receiving yards record of 163 yards set by Gordon Jones during the 1977 Gator Bowl.
- Boyd also returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown with 6:43 to go in the second quarter, putting Pitt up 17-3. It was the first time Pitt has returned a punt for a touchdown since Darrelle Revis went 73 yards for a score against West Virginia on November 16, 2006.
- Tom Savage finished the game going 8-for-13 with 124 yards, bringing his season total to 2,958 passing yards, which ranks him fifth all-time in a single-season by a Pitt quarterback. However, Savage suffered a rib injury late in the second quarter and did not return.
- Redshirt freshman Chad Voytik played the entire second half and finished the game 5-for-9 for 108 yards and two carries for 24 yards and a touchdown. He scored on a five yard TD run with 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter which capped off a six play, 98 yard drive by the Panthers. The 98-yard drive was the Panthers longest of the season and it was highlighted by a 62-yard pass and catch from Voytik to Boyd. Voytik’s five yard run was his first career touchdown.
- Ray Vinopal had a game-high 11 tackles, including one sack. Nicholas Grigsby had 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. As a unit, the Panthers tallied 12 TFLs for 71 yards and had seven sacks; one off the most in the history of the Pizza Bowl. Donald had five total tackles, two TFLs and one sack, bringing his 13-game season total to 59 total tackles (43 solo), 28.5 TFLs and 11 sacks.
Pitt started three true freshmen on defense against the Falcons. Defensive end Shakir Soto and Safety Terrish Webb each earned their first career start, while cornerback Titus Howard made his second career start (his first was against Old Dominion). The Panthers have now had eight true freshmen make at least one start this year on offense or defense.
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