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Deslin Alexandre’s Big Day Provides Platform for Big Fifth Down Campaign Goal

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It’s not smart football to matchup inexperienced tight ends against experienced defensive ends on pass plays. Steven Mahar Jr. learned that personally.

Mahar, a sophomore tight end who played just four snaps against Pitt Saturday night, received the matchup of stopping Alexandre from getting to Carlos Del Rio-Wilson late in the fourth quarter. With his back to the end zone, Mahar faced Alexandre alone.

Alexandre exploded off the line, pushed Mahar back — as Mahar did all that he could to stop Alexandre, ripping at his jersey — and pulled Del Rio-Wilson down with one hand to force a game-sealing safety.

It was an excellent individual play, the capper for one of Alexandre’s best games in a Pitt uniform, but he couldn’t take the credit for it. Football is a team game after all.

“It was great, but you can’t do that by yourself,” Alexandre said about the safety following Pitt’s 19-9 win over Syracuse. “It was a whole team defense — everybody doing their jobs. I was just the lucky one to be able to make that play for my team.”

Sam Vander Haar booted a punt 48 yards, SirVocea Dennis downed the punt right inside the Syracuse 1-yard line and Bangally Kamara helped free up ‘Cuse’s Enrique Cruz Jr. to give Alexandre a free run at Mahar — and Del Rio-Wilson.

It was a team effort all the way, but it was also a game in which Alexandre imposed his will all afternoon. He finished the day with seven tackles (three solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a pass breakup. In a performance that caught the eyes of many near and far, Alexandre was just thankful.

“It meant a lot,” Alexandre said. “First off, I just want to thank God, thank God for the opportunity and this platform to play. Thank you to my teammates — something we always talk about throughout practice the whole week is continue to finish. Continue to fight, continue to persevere and never let ourselves down. And we did that today.”

In a season during which Alexandre has missed time due to injury, the team captain has racked up 23 tackles (10 solo), five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two pass breakups in six games.

But while Alexandre’s goal is finishing out his senior season with Pitt on a high note and making a case for the NFL, his most pressing goal may not be football related. It may not even relate to athletics at all.

As Alexandre stood at the podium following his strong performance in Pitt’s win over then-No. 20 Syracuse, he made an impassioned plea for his Fifth Down Campaign — a campaign to provide extra opportunities for kids in Alexandre’s native Haiti.

“Something that’s really passionate to me is giving back to the community,” Alexandre said. “And where I’m from — Haiti. I just want to put it out there and for anyone listening to this, if you’ve got a chance, go to my Instagram, link is in my bio, I’m raising $50,000 for kids from where I’m from.”

Alexandre’s Fifth Down Campaign has already raised $11,054 of its $50,000 goal, but the expectation is to fulfill the entirety of the amount.

With the opportunity to use his platform as a recognized Pitt athlete, Alexandre said that he wants to be able to give back to the kids of Cap-Haitian — a place where he still has family.

Those who want to make a donation are able to do so here:

https://www.pittsburghkidsfoundation.org/5thdown

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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