A controversial call by Dabo Swinney on 4th and 1, late in the 4th quarter led to a chance for redemption for Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt.
In a game where #2 Clemson was favored by over 20 points, Blewitt’s 2nd quarter miss on a PAT looked like it was going to be the difference maker in another heartbreaking loss for the Panthers.
Clemson, armed with a 21-game home win streak, Heisman winner Deshaun Watson and NFL-ready receiver Mike Williams had put up 580 yards of offense through the air. But with the clock winding down and a chance to ice the game, Clemson opted to go to the ground game. It didn’t work. The Panthers stuffed Clemson on consecutive runs on 3rd and 4th down and got the ball back with less than a minute to play trailing by only two points.
Nate Peterman drove Pitt to within field goal range and with six seconds left, it was up to the kicker with the most points in Pitt history.
Blewitt, who’s name was summarily mocked by announcers Steve Levy and Bob Griese after he had line-drived a field goal into his own offensive lineman earlier in the game, had a chance to give Pitt it’s first win over a ranked team in almost three years, and it’s first victory over a top 5 team since 2007.
The 48-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt was good and Pitt earned its first signature victory of the Pat Narduzzi era.
The Pitt locker room is SO HYPE!!! pic.twitter.com/H0V2EdWI7p
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) November 13, 2016
It was a back and forth game and Clemson, even with all the yardage they racked up, were never able to put away the Panthers.
Pitt’s potent offense got started right out of the game, marching effortlessly down the field to take a 7-0 lead on George Aston’s 15-yard shovel pass from Nate Peterman.
Clemson quickly countered with a drive of their own, but a Ryan Lewis interception in the end zone put an end to the drive. Pitt was unable to capitalize and the next time Clemson was able to get the ball, they made short work of the Pitt defense, driving 51 yards in 6 plays.
With Pitt’s offense showing no ill-effects from last week’s debacle in Miami, the Panthers again drove the field, scoring on a 46-yard catch and run by James Conner.
But Clemson’s offense answered back again. Driving effortlessly down the field, they were able to punch it in from the 1 yard line, but not until after a 100-yard fumble recovery by Jordan Whitehead was nullified after it was ruled Clemson RB Wayne Gallman had broken the plane.
Clemson took their first lead of the day, 21-14 on a drive where Pitt gave up three 3rd down conversions, including a 3rd and 26.
Pitt countered with a touchdown of their own on a 55 yard strike from Peterman to Orndoff. Butt the missed extra point allowed Clemson to maintain a 1-point lead, 21-20.
Pitt would answer back after an Avonte Maddox interception with a George Aston 1-yard TD catch on 4th and goal.
Clemson would take the lead right back on a Artavis Scott touchdown catch and would go into the half up 28-27.
Early in the first quarter, ABC announcer Bob Griese remarked that Pitt didn’t have the horses up front to run James Conner straight at the Clemson defensive line.
Apparently no one informed the Panthers. Conner had one of his strongest half’s of the season, breaking off big runs to the tune of 96 yards on 11 carries and finished the game with 132 yards on 20 attempts. He got into the act through the air as well, scoring on a 46-yard TD reception. FB wunderkind George Aston didn’t have a single attempt on the ground, but had two touchdowns by halftime, scoring on a 15-yard shovel pass and a 1-yard catch in the back of the end zone on 4th and goal from the half yard line.
Pitt OC Matt Canada minimized the number of jet sweeps, but kept the constant motion. Even when Clemson blitzed, Peterman was able to make reads.
For most of the game, it looked like the story of the day would again be Pitt’s lackluster secondary. Deshaun Watson set both Clemson and ACC passing records with 580 yards through the air on a ridiculous 70 attempts. However, Pitt was able to turn three of those into interceptions. Watson’s third was the costliest. With a chance to close out the game, Watson was picked off by Saleem Brightwell, who took the pick 70-yards to set up Conner’s 2nd touchdown of the day and bring the panthers within 2.
After a failed 2-pt conversion left the Panthers down two, Pitt was able to hold Clemson on 4th down on the ensuing drive.
Jordan Whitehead left the game with an apparent arm injury in the third quarter.
Pitt outgained Clemson on the ground 156-49.
Clemson held a 580 to 308 advantage through the air.
Clemson committed 9 penalties for 101 yards. Pitt was only penalized 3 times for 40 yards.
Clemson wasn’t forced to punt until the second half.
Nathan Peterman finished with a career high 5 touchdowns and completed 22/38 for 308 yards.
Scott Orndoff had 9 catches for 128 yards and 2 tds.
Clemson WR Mike WIlliams had 15 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown. WR Artavis Scott caught 13 for 125 and a touchdown.