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Ray Vinopal named ACC Defensive Back of the Week

Vinopal returned his second INT 40 yards to set up Pitt's final TD.

Vinopal returned his second INT 40 yards to set up Pitt's final TD.

Nov. 11, 2013

   PITTSBURGH—Pitt junior safety Ray Vinopal has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Back of the Week for his performance in the Panthers’ 28-21 win over nationally ranked Notre Dame this past weekend.

   Vinopal (Youngstown, Ohio/Cardinal Mooney) played a vital role in Pitt’s victory over the No. 24 Irish by having a direct hand in three turnovers.

   His initial big defensive play came in the second quarter when he stripped receiver TJ Jones of the ball at the Pitt 6, and it was recovered by cornerback Lafayette Pitts. The fumble recovery prevented a Notre Dame score and kept the game tied, 7-7.

   It was in the decisive final period when Vinopal stood tallest for the Panthers.

   With the score deadlocked at 21, Vinopal halted a Notre Dame drive by intercepting quarterback Tommy Rees in the end zone with 14:04 remaining. Less than four minutes later, he picked off Rees again, returning it 40 yards to the Irish 5 to set up Pitt’s winning touchdown.

   (VIDEO: Pitt ‘Live Wire’ highlights of Pitt’s victory over Notre Dame)


 

 

   In addition to his two interceptions and forced fumble, Vinopal had seven tackles and assisted on a tackle for lost yardage.

   The 5-foot-10, 200-pound free safety paces Pitt in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (five). He ranks third on the team with 53 tackles.

   Vinopal and the Panthers (5-4, 2-3 ACC) take on Coastal Division foe North Carolina (4-5, 3-3) this Saturday at Heinz Field. Pitt can earn bowl eligibility with a victory over the surging Tar Heels, who have won three consecutive games heading into this weekend’s contest.

   The game will be televised by the ACC Network and shown locally on WTAE-TV, Channel 4.

—PITT—