SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Last year, Pitt’s offense outlasted Syracuse in a record-setting duel. This year, Pitt’s offense couldn’t keep up, as the Panthers lost 27-24 to the Orange at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon.
With Pitt’s second conference loss of the season, the 2-4 Panthers are 0-2 in the ACC and ahead of only 0-3 North Carolina in the Coastal Division.
The loss on Saturday may have more far-reaching implications, as well. Pitt quarterback Max Browne left the game with an upper-body injury in the third quarter. Browne was sacked by Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson and was driven into the turf on his throwing shoulder.
Browne got up holding his arm to his chest and was taken off the field for evaluation. Browne did not return. Ben DiNucci played the rest of the game in relief.
The offense, which had been bottled up most of the day, gained traction under DiNucci. He directed a short drive that ended in a 56-yard field goal by Alex Kessman that set a new Carrier Dome record. Then, he led a nine-play, 75-yard drive that brought the Panthers to within a field goal with 7:30 remaining the fourth quarter.
Pitt got the ball back with under a minute to play, but DiNucci was unable to direct a drive down field. True freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett took off his redshirt and played the final snap of the game, a completion to Rafael Araujo-Lopes.
After giving up 61 points to Syracuse’s offense a year ago, the Pitt defense mostly acquitted itself well in stopping Eric Dungey and the Orange’s spread offense, but a pair of costly penalties helped Syracuse convert on long touchdown drives.
In the second quarter, Dewayne Hendrix was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Syracuse 15 yards on what became a nine-play, 93-yard scoring drive when Dungey connected with Devin C. Butler on a 32-yard touchdown.
Then in the third quarter, Pitt had a Syracuse drive stopped when Dungey’s pass went incomplete on a 3rd and 10, but redshirt freshman linebacker Chase Pine was flagged for roughing the passer.
Given new life, Dungey led the Syracuse offense to paydirt, sealing the drive with a 10-yard quarterback draw.
Jordan Whitehead was the prime catalyst on offense for the Panthers. He had 73 yards on seven carries, including a 35-yard touchdown. Araujo-Lopes led all receivers with seven catches and 100 yards.