It was a disappointing finish to the 2016 football season for the Pitt Panthers as they lost 31-24 to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl. While the result was disappointing it wasn’t surprising given the circumstances.
Not many programs would’ve had a chance to win playing without their starting quarterback, best running back, best offensive lineman and playing without one of their two best defensive players. That was the case for Pitt as they played most of the second half with Nate Peterman, James Conner, Dorian Johnson and Jordan Whitehead (missed entire game).
While the injures played a part in the final score, there were many other things that happened during the game that effected the outcome. Here are some of my key moments and things that killed Pitt today.
1) Not capitalizing on scoring chances:
–1Q, Leading 3-0, Pitt has the ball on the Northwestern 3 yard line. Next play, George Aston has easy touchdown but slips and knee touches at 1 yard line. Next play, James Conner is stuffed at the 1 yard line. Instead of going up 10-0, Pitt gets no points.
–2Q, Northwestern leading 7-3, ball at the Northwestern 10 yard line, Nate Peterman is intercepted by Godwin Igwebuike. Instead of getting at least 3 points, Pitt once again puts up a goose egg.
–3Q, Northwestern leading 21-17, ball at the Northwestern 13 yard line. Bad snap by Alex Officer to Peterman who is sacked. However, on the play, Xavier Washington with a clear helmet to helmet shot on Peterman but the refs don’t call anything. That was the play that Peterman suffered a concussion. If refs make the obvious call, Pitt has the ball 1st and goal from the Northwestern 7 yard line. Chris Blewitt would eventually miss a 43 yard field goal so instead of a touchdown or field goal, Pitt once again gets nothing.
–4Q, Pitt trailing 31-24 and on next to last drive of game, normally sure handed tight end Scott Orndoff drops a touchdown that would’ve tied the game.
2) Defense not getting off the field: This was reminiscent of the North Carolina game when the defense played well on 1st and 2nd downs but couldn’t find a way to make a stop on 3rd and 4th downs.
—Northwestern first TD drive
- 3rd and 9, Justin Jackson 10 yard run
- 4th and 1, Clayton Thorson 2 yard run
–Northwestern second TD drive
- 3rd and 3 (own 33 yard line), Clayton Thorson 4 yards to Andrew Scanlan
- 3rd and 7 (own 40 yard line), Thorson 32 yards to Macan Wilson
–Northwestern third TD drive
- 3rd and 7 (own 14 yard line), Thorson 10 yards to Scanlan
- 3rd and 9 (own 47 yard line), Jackson 8 yard run
- (next play) 4th and 1, Thorson 2 yard run
- 3rd and 7, Jackson 40 yard TD run
-Northwestern fourth TD drive
- 3rd and 9 (own 48 yard line), Jackson 8 yard run
- (next play), 4th and 3, Thorson 5 yards to Macan Wilson
- 3rd and 10 (Pitt 41 yard line), Thorson 11 yards to Austin Carr
- 4th and 1, Thorson 21 yard TD to Garrett Dickerson
3) Play Calling By Matt Canada:
In his final game with Pitt, I didn’t feel Canada had a real strong game. Pitt’s top four running backs carried the ball only 19 times. When Pitt decided to pass the ball, Jester Weah wasn’t targeted enough. For that matter, freshman Aaron Mathews never got another pass his way after catching the first two thrown to him.
4) Crucial Misses By Refs:
Normally, I’m not one to blame or focus on refs but I thought the entire crew today was bad. The missed head shots on Conner and Peterman were critical moments in the game and to miss those calls were inexcusable.