April 16, 2011
PITTSBURGH - The Pitt football team and new head coach Todd Graham concluded spring drills on Saturday with the Annual Blue-Gold Game at Heinz Field. Utilizing a split-squad format with conventional scoring, the Blue defeated the Gold, 48-13.
The Blue squad was comprised of the Panthers' first-team performers, while the Gold consisted of the second and third teams.
"I was impressed with how the guys played today," said Graham, who led Tulsa to double-digit victories in three of his four seasons with the Golden Hurricane. "I thought everyone did a great job. It was the first time that we have gotten into that play count as we ran over 100 plays on offense. I'm very pleased with where we are as a team."
Senior Buddy Jackson (Plantation, Fla./Cypress Bay) opened the game in electrifying fashion, taking the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. Jackson was named one of three recipients of the Ed Conway Award, annually presented to the most improved players of the spring. Sophomore defensive tackle Tyrone Ezell (Munhall, Pa./Steel Valley) and redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Gonzalez (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) were the other Conway honorees.
Junior quarterback Tino Sunseri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) posted prolific passing numbers in Pitt's new no-huddle scheme, completing 35-of-55 for 416 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Gonzalez was 9-of-26 passing for 82 yards with two picks.
Junior receiver Mike Shanahan (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin) was the game's top pass catcher with seven receptions for 158 yards and a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Sophomore Devin Street (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) had eight catches for 81 yards and a TD.
Junior Desmond Brown (Miami, Fla./Miami Norland Senior/Miami Dade College) paced the rushing game with 64 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Junior Ray Graham (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth), in abbreviated work, had 15 yards on five carries and also caught three passes for 33 yards.
In the kicking game, junior Kevin Harper (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) was perfect on eight placements, converting two long field goals (52 and 41 yards) and all six extra points.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Carl Fleming (Reisterstown, Md./Franklin Senior) had a scrimmage-high 12 tackles with two sacks, while sophomore outside linebacker Emanuel Rackard (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) had 10 stops and a 10-yard fumble return for a score. Intercepting passes today were junior safety Marco Pecora (Johnstown, Pa./Richland), sophomore cornerback K'Waun Williams (Paterson, N.J./St. Joseph Regional) and junior safety Jarred Holley (Easton, Pa./Easton Area).
The Panthers open their 2011 season with a Sept. 3 game against Buffalo at Heinz Field. Pitt's schedule features a record eight home games. For season-ticket information, log onto www.pittsburghpanthers.com or call (800) 648-PITT.
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