Archive

Pitt shut down by Miami, loses 24-3 in regular-season finale | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Pitt shut down by Miami, loses 24-3 in regular-season finale

The Associated Press
4769334769338f9cdb89425e459bac06208fa87785a2
476933476933e66bfd8a9fd44698a8cea89227ee4bcd
Pittsburgh wide receiver Maurice Ffrench (2) runs past Miami defensive back Derrick Smith (25) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi’s summary of Pitt’s loss to Miami on Saturday was simple and to the point.

“Ran into a buzzsaw today,” he said.

Travis Homer needed only eight carries to rush for 168 yards, DeeJay Dallas ran back a punt for one of his two scores and Miami knocked off the No. 24 Panthers, 24-3, on Saturday. The Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4 ACC) yielded only 200 yards, held Pitt to a 1-for-15 effort on third-down conversion tries and forced 12 punts in a game where they yielded only 11 first downs.

Miami also had six sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

The biggest contribution that a Miami player made to the Hurricanes’ regular-season finale apparently came a night before kickoff, when Jaquan Johnson addressed his teammates.

He likened adversity to quicksand, and talked about how to escape.

“It really hit us hard, in the heart,” Homer said.

Homer was apparently listening, as were plenty of other Hurricanes.

“I think our guys rose to the occasion,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “It was very obvious that it was a dominating defensive performance, and I thought it was a dominating special-teams performance as well.”

“We’re 7-5,” cornerback Michael Jackson Sr. said, “but we’re not a 7-5 defense.”

Dallas also had a rushing touchdown for the Hurricanes, saying afterward he has received valuable help in recent days from a sports psychologist. And Homer is up to 969 yards this season and would have a chance to become the 10th runner in Miami history with a 1,000-yard season if he gets 31 in the bowl game.

His career rushing total is 1,979 yards, which moved him 4 yards past Frank Gore for 12th on the Hurricanes’ list.

“Travis was the spark tonight,” Dallas said.

Kenny Pickett completed 14 of 22 passes for 130 yards for Pitt (7-5, 6-2), which already had locked up the ACC’s Coastal Division and a berth in next weekend’s conference title game against Clemson. It was a reversal of last season, when Miami had the Coastal clinched and lost to Pitt in the regular-season finale for both clubs.

“That’s the most talented defense we’ve faced by far,” Pickett said.

Homer’s 64-yard touchdown in the third quarter put Miami up 17-3 and matched the longest scoring run of his Miami career. It also continued his knack for breaking big plays for scores. He has 12 rushing TDs, the average length of them being 27 yards.

Dallas scored on a 65-yard punt return in the second quarter, giving Miami one of those for the second straight week. The one last week came from Jeff Thomas, who left the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Team officials said he was dismissed, but Thomas claimed that his departure was by mutual decision.

Either way, it didn’t derail Miami on its senior day, even with the passing game struggling again. N’Kosi Perry completed only six of 24 passes for 52 yards, though was hurt by seven dropped passes. It was the lowest passing total Miami posted in an ACC game, 4 yards shy of the 56 the Hurricanes managed against Georgia Tech in 2007.

Alex Kessman’s 40-yard field goal for Pitt late in the third quarter allowed the Panthers to avoid the shutout. This was the first ACC season since 2009 that there were no shutouts in conference games.

The Panthers had won four straight before Saturday, averaging 40.8 points in those games. It was Pitt’s lowest point total since 2010 — a 31-3 loss to Miami.

Pitt almost certainly will fall out of the AP Top 25 after one week. The last time Pitt lasted more than two consecutive weeks in the poll was 2009. This current appearance was only the fifth for Pitt in the last 142 editions of the AP Top 25.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.