Pitt notebook: Chryst was playing for TD late in Duke loss
Pitt coach Paul Chryst said Wednesday he wanted to break the tie against Duke with a touchdown in the final 22 seconds of the fourth quarter, a decision that ultimately forced kicker Chris Blewitt to attempt — and miss — a 26-yard field goal from the right hash mark.
Blewitt hooked it wide left, and Pitt (4-5, 2-3) ended up losing 51-48 in double overtime Saturday, eliminating any realistic chance of winning the ACC Coastal Division and lessening hopes for a bowl bid.
“At that point there were 22 seconds left, still had a timeout. We were still trying to see if we could win it without having to kick a field goal,” said Chryst, aware Pitt had allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown earlier in the second half.
But quarterback Chad Voytik, who was tackled in bounds after a 3-yard run to the right, said the intention wasn’t to score a touchdown.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “We were just trying to run the clock down for the field goal.”
Perhaps Chryst’s wish to score a touchdown didn’t reach Voytik, who had finished an 11-yard run on the previous play. Chryst said he wanted Voytik to get out of bounds, run another play to center the football with the uprights, call a timeout and kick the field goal with a comfortable amount of time on the clock.
“If you say you would like to have one spot to kick a field goal, you would say you would like it in the middle,” Chryst said.
“When it doesn’t work, obviously, you are susceptible to being second-guessed, and I get it. And so be it.”
Former NFL punter and holder Josh Miller, who spent 12 years with the Steelers, Patriots and Titans, said he felt bad for Blewitt.
“He will make that kick 99 times out of a 100,” Miller said. “We just saw the one.”
He added, “Not an easy kick that close and wide.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said some of his players were forced to leave the game with injuries after colliding with Pitt running back James Conner.
“We had a couple of defensive backs who came out of the game early after tackling him, but a better word is attempting to tackle him,” Cutcliffe said.
Cutcliffe said he was even more impressed when he watched video of the game Sunday morning.
“Our guys played hard,” he said. “They hit him. They got in some licks. But not only were we sore, but he was probably sore.
“He is playing as well as any back in the country.”
Conner leads the nation in total rushing yards (1,342) and is fourth in average yards per game (149.1)
Kickoff for Pitt’s first game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill since 1998 will be 12:30 p.m. Nov. 15.
Both teams are 4-5, and the loser will be all but eliminated from bowl eligibility.
The game will be televised by WTAE-4.