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No. 24 Pitt Takes Care of Rhode Island at Home, 45-24, Ending their Non-Conference Slate



PITTSBURGH — No. 24 Pitt faced off against FCS opponent, Rhode Island at home Saturday. Pitt played a solid game without many mistakes and took the victory, 45-24, finishing off their non-conference slate.

The Panthers’ (3-1) victory over the Rams (2-2) is the 10th straight victory over an FCS School. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi’s win over his alma mater is the 56th win at the program. This ties him with John Michelosen for the third most wins in Pitt history.

Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis started against URI, making his return after missing the WMU win last Saturday and the second half of the loss against Tennessee. He completed 20 of his 27 passes for 189 yards, playing a minimal role in a heavy-run offense.

Redshirt junior M.J. Devonshire returned the first punt he saw 82-yards to the end zone to start the scoring for Pitt. This made him the first Pitt player to return a punt for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown in the same season since Pitt great Darrelle Revis in 2006.

Panthers junior running back Israel Abanikanda broke out on the second play of the second drive for a 67-yard rushing touchdown to make it a 14-0 game.

The Rams responded, with redshirt senior running back Marques Deshields running right up the middle, finding space and going 63 yards for the touchdown, cutting the lead to 14-7.

Pitt then went on a 16 play, 7:35 drive, capped by a 12-yard rushing touchdown from Abanikanda. That rush put him over 100 rushing yards, making him the first Pitt player to rush for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games since Darrin Hall did it in 2017.

The Panthers underwent another long drive that went over seven minutes and ended in field goal by redshirt sophomore place kicker Ben Sauls.

Rhode Island responded with a quick drive, highlighted by a 45-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback Kasim Hill to redshirt junior wide receiver Paul Woods.

They took advantage of some sloppy penalties from Pitt, including a face mask and a pass interference, allowing DeShields to rush into the end zone for another touchdown, again cutting the lead, to 24-14.

Abanikanda continued his great game on the ground, scoring another touchdown on a 24 yard rush to increase the Panthers’ lead. That score made it three rushing touchdowns for Abanikanda, the most in a game in his collegiate career so far.

URI then went on a long drive over eight minutes that looked to keep them in the game and within the 10 yard line. Junior defensive lineman Calijah Kancey picked a good time to get Pitt’s first sack of the game, taking down Hill and forcing URI to kick a field goal.

Once again, Abanikanda continued to dominate for the Panthers, rushing 13 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game. The score tied him for the most rushing touchdown in a game for a Panther since Darrin Hall scored four times on the ground against North Carolina in 2017.

He also finished with 177 yards, breaking his previous high of 154 yards against Tennessee in Week 2.

Rhode Island continued to battle late in the game. After stopping Pitt in the red zone on fourth down, they drove 96 yards down the field on 11 plays and scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hill to junior redshirt Darius Savedge.

The Rams tried to use an onside kick to try to keep their hopes alive, but Panthers redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bub Means recovered it for 17 yards. Senior running back Vincent Davis then rushed 18 yards into the end zone to settle any potential doubts of a Panthers’ win.

Pitt takes on Georgia Tech in the first game of ACC play next week at home on Sat. Oct 1. Kickoff time is still not known as of now.


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Another win that felt blah…so disappointed in the receivers Pitt has. Slovis has also been a disappointment. I liked when Pitt did the onside kick. They should have tried to score again. I thought it was pretty crappy of Rhode Island to try an onside kick at the end.

1 year ago

i lost my feed in the last minute, i thought pitt was kicking a FG after the onside kick. how did it turn into an 18-yard run by Davis ?

1 year ago
Reply to  TJ

Means recovers the ball on the RI onside kick and almost breaks it to the end zone, being forced out on the RI 18. Next play, Davis breaks around right end for the score.

Last edited 1 year ago by Pittband
1 year ago

Give the coaches credit here. They had the hands team on the field for the expected onside kick. The ball bounced up nicely for Means and truthfully I thought he was gone.

1 year ago

I am a life long Panther. I am so frustrated about what appears to be a poor OC. He is a coach at this level because of nepotism. Cignetti has never shown consistent success anytime in his career.

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