Pitt football notebook: Aston makes most of his opportunity, scores pair of TDs
When George Aston arrived at Pitt last year, the previous coaching staff decided he was a fullback.
“I wasn’t happy at all about it,” he said, noting he played only running back and linebacker at Sherando (Va.) High School.
But he was a walk-on during his first year at Pitt, and he couldn’t say a lot about the move.
“I had to take care of what I control,” he said. “I just worked hard, the coaches believed in me and gave me a chance.
“God’s been looking out for me big-time.”
The switch felt a little better Saturday after Aston — now on scholarship — scored two touchdowns on 4-yard flips from quarterback Nathan Peterman to help Pitt defeat Louisville, 45-34.
Still, Aston mostly shrugged off his effort that also included a 14-yard reception that turned a third-and-8 into first down in the fourth quarter.
“The running game set that up,” he said of running back Qadree Ollison and the offensive line. “I had the easiest job. They are the ones who made those plays. Everything worked out perfectly for me.”
Running back Ollison became the fifth Pitt freshman to rush for 1,000 yards, finishing the game with 1,011. He joins Dion Lewis, Tony Dorsett, LeSean McCoy and Curvin Richards on that list.
Ollison totaled 152 for the game, a season-high for him against an FBS opponent.
Ollison has recorded five 100-yard games while replacing 2014 ACC Player of the Year James Conner.
“Coach Andrews (Dave, Pitt’s strength coach) is big on the next-man up mentality,” Aston said.
When junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter, it was the 21st of his career to put him fifth all-time at Pitt (tied with Gordon Jones). Larry Fitzgerald is Pitt’s leader with 34 in two seasons (2002-2003).
Boyd also owns three of the top four single-season reception totals. He has 80 this season after catching 85 as a freshman and 78 last year.
Boyd also passed running back Ray Graham for second place in all-purpose yards (5,018) after recording 103 in receptions and 50 on the ground against Louisville.
Boyd trails only Tony Dorsett (7,117).
Whithead sets up score
For the second week in a row, strong safety Jordan Whitehead did not score a touchdown after getting two against Notre Dame in his debut as a two-way player.
But he did set up a score, something he also did last week in a victory at Duke.
Whitehead’s 10-yard gain in the first quarter put Pitt on the Louisville 2. Two plays later, Ollison scored from the 1 to give Pitt a 7-3 lead.
Whithead also had six tackles. He was only third behind defensive end Ejuan Price and cornerback Avonte Maddox after leading the team in that category after most games.
But he brought his season total to 88, fourth-highest by a freshman in Pitt history. He tied Hugh Green, who also had 88 in 1977.
— Jerry DiPaola