Conservative be damned. There would be no last second letdown this time.
Jester Weah’s 54-yard touchdown catch on 3rd and 3 ended an inspired Marshall comeback and secured a 43-27 victory for the Panthers under the lights at Heinz Field.
But it wasn’t pretty.
The Panthers roared out of the gate, scoring 20 points in the first quarter thanks to a heavy dose of Conner, Moss and Aston, and, for really the first time this year, a downfield passing game. After a 15-yard TD pass from Nathan Peterman to Tre Tipton put the Panthers up 27-0 in the second quarter, it looked like the rout was on.
For a while it looked like the only real drama would be how many yards and points the Panthers would put up before the backups came in.
Then the second half started.
Marshall cut the Panthers lead to 13 late in the 3rd quarter, scoring two touchdowns before the Pitt offense even had a chance to touch the ball.
The Thundering Herd found their running game after halftime, driving methodically down the field for the score. A supremely executed onside kick gave Marshall the ball back and they quickly turned it into points after an 11-yard TD rush by Anthony Anderson.
With the ball back for the first time in the half, Pitt was able to drive down the field. After Nathan Peterman was stopped on 3rd down at the 2-yard line, the Panthers elected to attempt a short field goal. A 20-yarder from Chris Blewitt made it 30-14.
Then Marshall discovered their passing game.
Marshall QB Chase Litton found Michael Clark for an 83-yard strike and the lead was down to 10 after a failed two-point conversion.
For the third consecutive game, the Pitt offense failed to stem the tide, and after a failed fake field goal, Marshall got the ball back.
Twelve plays and 67 yards later, Marshall cut the lead to 3 after a 1-yard Keion Davis run and a successful PAT.
But this time, the Pitt offense came through in a situation where they had fallen short against Penn State and North Carolina. Pitt was able to convert a third down on a catch by Scott Orndoff. Then with under two minutes left and the Panthers facing a third and three, Peterman found Weah down the left sideline. Weah was able to make the catch, shake the defender and walk in for the score.
Pitt added an Avonte Maddox interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the game giving the Panthers a badly needed victory. Final score Pitt 43 – Marshall 27.
On offense, the Panthers finally found their passing game. Pitt QB Nathan Peterman had his biggest game of the year, completing 17 out of 23 passes for 280-yards and two touchdowns. Jester Weah may have cemented himself as Pitt’s go-to receiver after a 7 catch 176-yard performance. On the ground, Pitt was able to rack up over 200 yards of offense in the first half, but struggled to get going after halftime. Chawntez Moss lead all players with 97-yards on only 12 carriers, James Conner chipped in 34, in probably his worst game of the season. Do-it-all WR Quadree Henderson added 57 on 7 carries of his own.
In all, Pitt piled up over 500 yards of offense, including 235 on the ground, but only 32 of those came after the half. On defense, Pitt held Marshall to only 240 yards passing, but the 104 on the ground was the most given up by the team this year.
Next week is Homecoming for Pitt as they take on Georgia Tech at Heinz Field at 12:30 PM. To the delight of fans everywhere, the Panthers will be wearing their much lauded throwback uniforms.