It was a common refrain that Pitt did a lot to beat themselves in Saturday’s 51-6 loss to Penn State.
The Panthers made a plethora of errors, from 14 penalties, to turnovers, mental mistakes, all the way down to a pair of botched holds on an extra point and a field goal, that influenced Pat Narduzzi’s decision to go for it on a crucial 4th and 3 when the game was still close in the second quarter.
It appears that the self-inflicted wounds did not end there. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Pittsburgh Sports Now has learned that regular holder Jake Scarton was injured in a fight in the week leading up to the game.
Narduzzi said Scarton was unavailable on Saturday against Penn State due to injury. He was seen with a brace on his left arm on the sideline. After the game, Narduzzi said Scarton was hurt “last week,” but the redshirt freshman only works as the team’s holder, and he made the final hold in Pitt’s 33-7 Week One victory over Albany without drama.
Scarton, a walk-on from Hermitage, Pa., is also the team’s backup kicker. PSN is still working to verify the nature of the incident and if any of Scarton’s teammates were involved.
Most of the blame for what happened in his absence fell to backup holder and regular punter Kirk Christodoulou. As I wrote after the game on Saturday, Christodoulou deserved plenty of criticism for a mediocre night punting and for dropping the snap on a punt that set Penn State up in glorious field position before the half.
But as far as the holding issues, well, Christodoulou grew up playing Australian rules football, where the ball is shaped differently and place kicks don’t exist. There’s a reason he was selected as the backup to Scarton early on in training camp.
Narduzzi said on Saturday that Christodoulou will be replaced going forward, suggesting that Scarton is likely to miss multiple weeks. Wide receiver Kellen McAlone is the third-string holder and would have gone into the game Saturday if Pitt had another placekicking opportunity after Christodoulou’s second bobble.
But a kicker and holder can take a long time to get in sync, so even if McAlone ends up being more capable than Christodoulou, Pitt’s kicking game may still end up worse off for the time being.
PSN has learned that the incident was off Pitt’s campus and that none of Scarton’s teammates were involved.