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Pitt spotlight

GETTING STARTED: Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione took a shot on fourth-and-1 from the Pitt 8 early in the first quarter, but the gamble did not pay off. Quarterback Reggie McNeal fumbled the center snap, and Pitt linebacker Lewis Moore recovered at the 7, leaving the Aggies with no points after a 41-yard drive.

MAKE THEM PAY: The Panthers took over at the their own 7 and went to work from there, driving 93 yards in only five plays to take a 6-0 lead after David Abdul’s extra-point kick hit the goal post, marking his first miss in 41 attempts. Sophomore wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught a 34-yard touchdown pass to end the drive, one play after freshman Terrell Allen ran 34 yards on a reverse down the left side of the field. The touchdown reception by Fitzgerald continued his school-record scoring reception streak at 10 games, and he’s three shy of tying the NCAA record set by Charles Rogers of Michigan State last season.

GIVEAWAY: Texas A&M forced the Panthers to punt on Pitt’s next drive, but Aggies returner Jason Carter got stripped by Moore, who recovered Carter’s fumble the Texas A&M 29.

MAKE THEM PAY II: Four plays later, Abdul booted a 45-yard field goal to give Pitt a 9-0 lead with 4:12 remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers had a touchdown opportunity, but quarterback Rod Rutherford overthrew a wide-open Kris Wilson on third-and-8. Wilson leaped for the pass in the end zone, but couldn’t keep it in his hands.

CLOSING THE GAP: Texas A&M continued a pattern of long drives against the Pitt defense when it went 80 yards in 12 plays the ensuing possesion to cut the Panthers’ lead to 9-7. Aggies quarterback Reggie McNeal, who had a 20-yard run on the drive, finished with an 18-yard scoring passs to flanker Jamaar Taylor, making it 9-7 early in the second quarter.

LOST CHANCE: Junior wide receiver Princell Brockenbrough, who did not start due to an injured ankle, had a catch-and-run of 67 yards on the next series that put Pitt at the Texas A&M 9. But on the next play, Rutherford underthrew Fitzgerald in the end zone, and the pass was intercepted by the Aggies’ Bryon Jones, squelching the scoring chance.

TAKING THE LEAD: Texas A&M used field goals of 31 and 30 yards by kicker Todd Pegram on back-to-back drives for a 13-9 advantage.

BIG PLAY: Pegram’s first field goal was set up by a 33-yard catch-and-run by running back Courtney Lewis, who went sideline-to-sideline and eluded tackles by Pitt’s Tutu Ferguson on one side and Shawntae Spencer on the other.

FINALLY, CLAUDE: Pitt defensive end Claude Harriott had his first sack of the season by throwing McNeal for a two-yard loss on the second field-goal drive.

BIG STOP: Rutherford was held to no yards on a quarterback sneak on third-and-1 at the Texas A&M 30, ending Pitt’s final drive of the first half.

HALFTIME NUMBERS: Pitt allowed 303 yards on 41 plays in the opening two quarters, while the Panthers managed 183 in 27 plays. The Aggies held the ball 17:15 to Pitt’s 12:45.

NFL-STYLE: Brockenbrough opened the third quarter with a fingertip 20-yard touchdown pass over Jaxson Appel while keeping both feet inside the end line for highlight-reel style grab, putting Pitt ahead 16-13 at 12:11 of the period.

WIDE LEFT: Pegram missed his first field goal of the season the ensuing drive from 33 yards out.

PILING ON II: Pitt went 13 plays in 80 yards for a 23-13 lead, with the final five yards coming on a TD reception by Fitzgerald. Tailback Jawan Walker ran for 38 yards on the drive.

OOPS: Pitt’s Joe Dipre recovered his first career fumble when Texas A&M’s Terrence Thomas mishandled a punt, giving Pitt the ball at the Aggies 15.

DRIVE IT HOME: Four plays later, fullback Lousaka Polite made a diving one-hand grab for a six-yard TD reception, cushioning the margin to 30-13 with five seconds left in the third quarter. Texas A&M made it 30-20 on a run by Lewis on the ensuing drive, but Pitt’s Malcolm Postell had a pick on the Aggies next possesion with less than nine minutes to go.

UP NEXT: Pitt is idle next Saturday. It returns for a home game versus Notre Dame on Oct. 12 at Heinz Field.


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