PITTSBURGH — Things 17 years in the making generally do not come easily, and that was the case for Pitt on Saturday, as the No. 21 Panthers battled and scratched out a 23-20 victory over No. 24 Louisville at Heinz Field.
The win was the first time a ranked Pitt team defeated a ranked opponent since 2003, when Pitt upset Virginia Tech at Heinz Field.
Pitt’s defense smothered the high-powered Louisville offense throughout much of the afternoon, but a few big plays kept the Cardinals in the game.
It wasn’t until Jason Pinnock intercepted Micale Cunningham with 1:26 to play that Pitt was able to finally secure the long-awaited victory.
After Pitt built an early 13-0 lead on pair of Alex Kessman field goals and a Kenny Pickett to Jordan Addison touchdown, it looked like it might be an easy victory for Pitt. At that point, Louisville had negative total offensive yards.
Cardinals running back Javian Hawkins solved that in a big hurry, eluding a Paris Ford tackle to run for 75 yards and a score. After a Louisville field goal narrowed the gap further, Pickett fumbled deep in Pitt’s territory, and Louisville struck for a wide-open touchdown from Micale Cunningham to Tutu Atwell to give the Cardinals the lead.
Pitt responded with a big play of their own, when Taysir Mack looked to be tackled, but maintained his balance and ran 40 yards to a score late in the first half.
In the second half, the teams traded field goals, with the Pitt defense continuing its run of dominance. The Panthers finished with seven sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, five quarterback hurries, three interceptions and a forced fumble.
Patrick Jones finished with six tackles, three sacks and three tackles for a loss. Rashad Weaver finished with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Pitt (3-0) will host NC State next Saturday.