Connect with us
PSN is sponsored by Beaver County Auto

Pitt Football

Five Takeaways: Pitt Fights Hard, Falls Short In Peach Bowl

Published

on

ATLANTA — Over and over, the Pitt Panthers brought up one word in their post-game interviews after a 31-21 loss to Michigan State in the Peach Bowl. 

Pride. 

Pride in one of the greatest seasons in school history, one that ended in 11 wins and the first ACC Championship for the program. 

Pride in a year that saw individual success, from Kenny Pickett earning a spot at the Heisman ceremony to Jordan Addison winning the Biletnikoff award. 

Pride in a team that reinvigorated the energy around the program, enough to where the lower bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium could have been mistaken for Heinz Field on a Steelers game day with yellow Pitt towels swirling all night. 

Pride in a night where the Panthers almost won their first New Year’s Six since the 1981 Sugar Bowl despite losing their quarterback, running back and a slew of defensive starters to injury. 

In the end, it wasn’t enough. Pitt was outscored 21-0 over the final 8:06 as a spirited defense slowly reached its breaking point against a diligent Michigan State offense. Starting quarterback Nick Patti suffered a broken collarbone in the first quarter, and Davis Belville was pressed into duty for his first action since September on the shortest notice possible.

The disappointment will linger. The Panthers were within touching distance of accomplishing something no Pitt team in the last four decades had and could not finish the game. A botched third-and-1 on the penultimate offensive possession will sting for a while. So will allowing Michigan State to convert a third-and-7 and three third-and-10 plays on the touchdown drive that ended up deciding the game. And of course, Belville’s pick six with 21 seconds remaining was a cruel twist of the knife after he drove the offense onto the edges of field goal range. 

‘It’s not easy,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “But that’s the ballgame. We haven’t lost for a while. Our kids have a lot of confidence. So, it hurts. They’re hurting there. They’re frustrated. A lot of tears in that locker room. They care and they fought.”

The hurt is palpable, the frustration is strong, and the tears were there. But so was the pride.

“I wish more than anything we could have pulled this out for everyone because I feel like we deserved it,” linebacker John Petrishen said. “We played a heck of a game tonight. Everybody played so hard, I’m so proud of everybody.” 

And when reflecting on his college career as a whole, Petrishen shared the same sentiments in the macro as he did with the micro of Thursday’s game. 

“This program is on the right track,” he said. “I’m so excited for what’s in store in the future. But like I said, I can’t be more grateful or appreciative of the opportunity and the season we had this year. I’m really proud to say that I helped put this team back on the map.”

Davis Belville’s Game

Davis Belleville entered the Peach Bowl with four pass attempts on the season and 14 in his college career. He more than doubled that in one game and gave Pitt every opportunity to win. 

Belville finished 14-for-18 passing with 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He did it all with heavy pressure in his face; Michigan State sacked him five times. The interception will be the lasting image of this game, but it was far from the whole picture. 

“Yeah, in our empty looks, they mugged up, put those two backs in the box,” Belville said, explaining what he saw on the interception.” [I] Took a step forward, I thought he was coming, tried to put it right behind him, he stepped back and made a great play. Give all the credit to him [Michigan State linebacker Cal Haladay].” 

While a far cry from the eye-popping performances of Pickett or Patti’s flashy start, it was enough to have the ball with a chance to tie or win the game late.

“He put it on his shoulders,” left guard Marcus Minor said. “He was a leader throughout the whole time. We needed to be better for him. But he was able to work with us. We communicated on and off the sidelines. I’m proud of him, his standpoint, and I am happy we were able to have him.”

For Davis Beville, there was a lot to be proud of.

Jordan Addison’s Historic Season 

Jordan Addison put a bow on one of the best seasons for any wide receiver in school history. The Biletnikoff winner caught seven passes for 114 yards, including a mesmerizing 52-yard reception with a twisting run that set up Belville’s touchdown. 

His final numbers clocked in at 93 receptions for 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns, an average of 113.8 yards per game. 

“Jordan Addison is an outstanding player,” Narduzzi said. “I don’t know what hasn’t been said about him. Winning a Biletnikoff. Wish he’d had more than seven catches. Probably should have got him the ball more, just couldn’t get it to him enough. In the second half, the play was just to have Davis look to find No. 3 and throw it to him, let him go make a play.”

Fatigue 

The other angle of an almost entire game of painstaking defensive football with a depleted roster is it leaves a fourth quarter of holding on for dear life. Pitt found out the painful way. 

Michigan State ran 86 offensive plays, including 25 in the fourth quarter alone. The two touchdown drives were 13 and 11 plays respectively. 

“Yeah, it’s probably mental fatigue,” Campbell said. “Focus, a lot goes into it. It can be distractions. Like on the field, like you cannot get the call right away, you can be trying to look for your assignment, your alignment. Things happen really fast during the game.”

The last two drives became a hydraulic press for the overworked defense, and eventually the pressure finally broke it. 

Winning Up Front 

When Belville was still finding his feet in the first half, Pitt’s defense held the fort. Michigan State drove the ball inside the Pitt 30 on four straight second quarter possessions, but only came away with a total of three points. In particular the Panthers found an upper hand in the trenches, holding Michigan State to 56 rushing yards on 36 carries and sacking Thorne three times.

“I feel like the defense stepped up in a lot of ways today,” linebacker Phil Campbell III said. “We can’t point fingers and we can’t say they should have done this better, they could have ran this play. But all I can do is just look at what my responsibility was leading the defense.”

Michigan State went just shy of 50 minutes (49:55) where it scored three points after the initial touchdown, and on another night with a little bit of a healthier roster it might have ended in celebrations. 

But when all the dust settled and confetti cleared, one feeling remained. The same one that existed for the quarterback, the offense, the program and the season as a whole. 

“I’m proud of everybody, even guys that had touchdowns scored on them,” Campbell said. “You can’t look at that one play. You got to look at the body of work they did throughout the game and throughout the season. I’m proud of all of them, honestly.”

There’s that pride again. 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
13 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom DiPasquale
Tom DiPasquale
26 days ago

Narduzzi is 1-6 in Bowl Games. Terrible record and that’s who he is.

Jason
Jason
26 days ago
Reply to  Tom DiPasquale

Great PITT football season. I thought it was going to be the some ole PITT after WMU loss. But PITT showed something that they haven’t in a long time and that is confidence, belief and perseverance. I really enjoyed this season (for the first time in a long time) and am looking forward to PITT football in 2022.
Thanks to the team for an exciting season and thanks to Coach Narduzzi for a culture we can be proud of. Let’s keep building.

Mark Recker
Mark Recker
26 days ago
Reply to  Tom DiPasquale

Narduzzi is 1-4 in bowl games. Do you ever get tired of being wrong Sturg?

Narloser
Narloser
26 days ago
Reply to  Mark Recker

Do You Ever Get Tired Of Fucking Your Mommy In The Ass? Markie Rectum!! The Mental Giant!

Mark Recker
Mark Recker
26 days ago
Reply to  Narloser

Anger, rage & mental illness can be a very dangerous combination for a person of your advanced age & deteriorating health. I can see either a heart attack or a complete mental breakdown coming very soon for you Pap. I wish I could tell you that you’ll be missed.

Giovanni
Giovanni
26 days ago
Reply to  Mark Recker

Do you even realize that almost all of your posts involve personally attacking someone — mostly because they have a different opinion than yourself?? You are indeed a jerk-off and this board would be so much better off if you were banned from it.

Mark Recker
Mark Recker
26 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

Thanks for reading all of my posts. I know that sometimes the truth can hurt but just remember one thing Sturg, I’m doing this to make you a better person. Hasn’t worked yet but I’m an optimist & I’ll keep trying.

Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
26 days ago

Pitt could have won this game. With about 6 minutes to go Pitt had 3rd and 1. Convert that and there is a great chance Pitt wins. Unfortunately Salem dials up the horrible decision to pitch the ball back to Davis, and he proceeds to lose 2 yards. It was a slow developing play and had little chance for success in that situation. Pitt didn’t lose because of Beville’s INT. They should have never have been on that situation to begin with. Had the OC not called that dumb play Pitt likely wins that game. Terrible decision making by the… Read more »

Katura Cassells
Katura Cassells
26 days ago

Yes, it was a very poor performance by the hopefully interim offensive coordinator. His play calling eliminated any chance Pitt had without their regular o.c. and their first and second team q.b.’s. The defense was on the field the entire second half. Ridiculous. Not withstanding the above mentioned, our Panthers had an excellent season. Congratulations Panthers. H2P!

Realitychek
Realitychek
26 days ago

Petrishen say’s he is proud to have helped? He is a PSU carpetbagger. Picket and Addison are the reasons. I truly can’t believe how far Pickett has come and it’s going to be very interesting next year to see how Duzz does without KP bailing him out.

Mark Recker
Mark Recker
26 days ago
Reply to  Realitychek

Says the guy who once shared a jail cell with Jerry S.

Narloser
Narloser
26 days ago
Reply to  Mark Recker

Still Stalking On Message Boards Markie Rectum?

Mark Recker
Mark Recker
26 days ago
Reply to  Narloser

Your obsession with rectums is both amazing & disturbing.

Duquesne WBB

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend