PITTSBURGH — It seemed as if the Pitt Panthers needed every one of Todd Sibley’s 106 rushing yards on Saturday against Delaware.
Coming into the contest, the sophomore running back, had only carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards in Pitt’s first four games of the season.
With A.J. Davis and Vincent Davis both out with injuries, Sibley knew his name was going to get called. And it got called 22 times in the 17-14 win over the Blue Hens.
Sibley wasn’t even one of the three backs on Pitt’s depth chart, heading into the week. He was behind the two Davis’ and V’Lique Carter.
Sibley, a redshirt sophomore, knew once he had heard that the Davis’ probably weren’t going to go on Saturday, that he had to be prepared for the role that would fall into his lap.
“I took the challenge to heart,” Sibley said. “I think I practiced harder (this week) than I ever practiced.”
Sibley’s performance was the first of its kind, for a Pitt rusher, this season. No other Panther had previously rushed for more than 100 yards in a game.
Sibley ran for 65 yards on 12 carries in the fourth quarter. He seemed to keep the momentum going when Pitt, who was trailing 14-10, seemed to be stalling throughout the second half.
The two passes from Nick Patti to Taysir Mack in the fourth, were ultimately, the game-winning plays for Pitt. But Sibley had a lot to do with getting the offense going and opening those plays up.
“I just took on the challenge,” Sibley said. “Coach Duzz, coach Whipple, coach Powell, were telling me all week, this is your chance. … I just kind of ran with it.”
With Patti, starting at quarterback for the first time, and knowing that he was going to have some ups and downs, made Sibley’s performance that much more crucial for the Panthers.
This performance meant a lot, for the kid from Akron.
“As a child, you always want this moment and you’ve always dreamed of this moment,” Sibley said. “Once you hear your name, everything kind of just jumps in and after the first carry, it all goes away and it’s like, ‘I’ve been playing football since I was a little kid’ and you just kind of get back to the old days.”
Sibley and the whole running back unit know that they need to produce, for the Panthers to be successful. This is important, now more than ever. Pitt will now play seven consecutive ACC games that all mean something, when it comes to making a bowl game and/or winning the Coastal Division.