DETROIT — Pitt and Eastern Michigan don’t exactly have a lot of history, with the two programs meeting just twice before Thursday’s matchup in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl.
But that didn’t stop the nationally televised event from Ford Field from getting a little bit testy.
On a second-half punt return, EMU cornerback Kevin McGill was ejected after spitting on Pitt safety Jazzee Stocker in a post-whistle skirmish.
Then in the game’s final moments, Eastern Michigan quarterback Mike Glass III threw open-fisted punches at Pitt linebacker Cam Bright and safety Paris Ford.
To make matters worse for him, Glass actually missed Ford and made contact with an official instead. He was ejected and EMU had to run the final play with its backup quarterback.
Though Ford was assessed a personal foul, none of the Pitt players involved escalated the situation or even retaliated in kind when confronted with a clear violation of the rules.
“That’s not who we are,” Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton said after the game. “Absolutely zero excuse for what happened, and he knows it. He made a mistake and he is truly sorry for it.” Glass formally apologized on Twitter after the game.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said that was a focus point after some unspecified incidents between the teams in Detroit in the days leading up to the game.
“We talked about it coming into the game,” Narduzzi said. “There was some escalation during the week during the bowl time and I talked to our guys several, several times that even during the pre-pregame, we’re just going to shut our mouths, we’re going to talk with our pads, and that’s what we did. Our kids did a good job.”
Pitt did receive a personal foul — actually six personal fouls — for an illegal celebration after Damar Hamlin’s interception in the second half. Hamlin was joined in celebrating by Bright, Ford, Damarri Mathis, Dane Jackson and Saleem Brightwell, which is against the rules in college football.
All six were assessed personal fouls and Pitt lost 15 crucial yards, helping to force the Panthers into a 51-yard Alex Kessman field goal instead of a shot at the end zone.
“I wasn’t happy with the interception celebration that No. 3 put on,” Narduzzi said. “I wasn’t real happy with that one. But other than that, our kids held their composure.”