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Pitt Football

Ben Sauls’ FG Pushes Pitt to 37-35 Win Over No. 18 UCLA in 2022 Sun Bowl

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Ben Sauls connected on all four of his field goal attempts, but he didn’t get a chance late in the fourth quarter inside the 30-yard line.

Pitt called a draw play for Rodney Hammond Jr. from the UCLA 28-yard line. A fumbled snap gave the Bruins a chance, and it resulted in a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown run from Bruins’ running back T.J. Harden.

Trailing 35-34 with 34 seconds left, Pitt just needed to give him a chance.

Nick Patti stepped up with a couple of big throws, an 11-yard scramble on 2nd-and-10 with no time to spare, and Pitt brought Sauls on for a potential 47-yard game-winning attempt.

Sauls’ fifth attempt of the day proved to be enough, sailing through the uprights to give Pitt a 37-35 win over No. 18 UCLA in the 2022 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Patti threw for 232 yards and a touchdown, adding 72 yards on the ground, Hammond added 91 yards and two touchdowns of his own and Konata Mumpfeld hauled in seven receptions for 80 yards.

Pitt’s defense clamped down after allowing two touchdowns on the first two defensive possessions, three on the first four possessions. Bangally Kamara, Javon McIntyre and Tylar Wiltz each recorded an interception in the process. And added eight tackles for loss and three sacks in the process.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Pitt — across all three phases — got the job done when it mattered most.

In a battle of two of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks, Nick Patti struck first.

Well, maybe not two of the top dual-threats statistically, but Patti did establish the run early with a 41-yard dash on Pitt’s opening possession — helping to set up a 22-yard Ben Sauls field goal.

However, UCLA scored rather easily on its first possession, an 11-yard touchdown strike to Logan Loya, and again on its second possession, a 1-yard dive from Thompson-Robinson.

It took a Tylar Wiltz interception inside the Pitt 10-yard line to really kick the offense into gear. It came at the perfect time, right as UCLA appeared ready to convert a third straight touchdown drive.

Instead, Patti and Pitt’s offense took the field and set off on a nine-play, 94-yard touchdown drive.

Pitt opened up the passing game, which required Patti to take some serious shots from the UCLA defense, and it resulted in a 45-yard connection with Bub Means downfield. A couple of plays later, Patti avoided pressure, stepped up in the pocket and fired a side-armed laser to Means for a 15-yard touchdown.

Of course, he connected with Konata Mumpfield to tie the game up at 14 on the two-point conversion.

However, Pitt’s defense — despite the first sack of the game from David Green on UCLA’s final offensive possession of the first half — wasn’t able to clamp down right before the half. Erick Hallett and P.J. O’Brien weren’t on the same page as Thompson-Robinson fired a 28-yard strike to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala.

UCLA had a chance to drive down the field, which it did, to open the second half. But instead of a key touchdown, Thompson-Robinson threw a bullet off his receivers’ hands and Javon McIntyre was there for the interception.

Pitt wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnover, but a school-record 85-yard punt from Caleb Junko (on a play on which he was crushed by the UCLA coverage team) flipped the field, and the Pitt defense made its first third down stop of the day on the ensuing drive.

With solid field position, trailing by just a touchdown after a poor punt from UCLA’s Nicholas Barr-Mira, Patti lofted an ill-advised screen toward Mumpfield, which fell right into the waiting arms of Jaylin Davies, who raced back 52 yards to the end zone to push the Bruins’ lead back to 14 points.

Trailing by 14, after a back-breaking penalty, Pitt faced a crossroads.

An 11-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown dive from Hammond, brought Pitt back within a score. The defense did its job with a quick stop, and it resulted in a stalled offensive possession right around midfield — and Junko’s worst punt of the day.

And Thompson-Robinson’s third pick of the day, a play in which Bangally Kamara read his eyes the entire way, set the offense up inside the red zone. A 7-yard Hammond touchdown run, disappearing into a mass of defenders and emerging into the end zone tied the game.

A Sauls kickoff into the wind forced UCLA’s Jaydn Marshall to run up to field the kick, the ball falling through his arms and Solomon DeShields recovering the ball inside the UCLA 20. Pitt wasn’t able to punch the ball into the end zone, but Sauls hit his third field goal — a 31-yarder.

Sauls’ ensuing kickoff died in the wind right at the 5-yard line, backup Chase Garbers entered the game and Pitt’s defense forced a punt from inside the 10-yard line. Facing a 4th-and-6 from inside UCLA territory, Patti hit Mumpifed across the middle of the field for a 30-yard catch and run.

However, Pitt once again wasn’t able to find the end zone, and another Sauls field goal sailed through the uprights. Without Thompson-Robinson once again, Pitt’s defense forced a three and out.

Sauls nailed another 27-yard field goal, UCLA would drive the length of the field to take the lead and Pitt’s offense — led by a cool Patti — gave Sauls enough time to nail a game-winning field goal with four seconds left.

The Sun Bowl win gives Pitt a 9-4 final record on the season, capping a season-ending win streak at five games.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Pitt Rules
Pitt Rules
29 days ago

UNBELIEVABLE! It’s all I can say!

Denny
Denny
29 days ago

Top Shelf!

Don
Don
29 days ago

Why not kick it and go up by 9??? Narduzzi luckiest SOB I know but you want to know something….I’m starting to like him. I bet the Little 10 happy to be getting a UCLA team that can’t beat a Pitt team minus a bunch of starters. Great day for Pitt!! 2-0 with basketball victory…H2P!!

Tony
Tony
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

We won fuck off!

Burton Tee
Burton Tee
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

Agreed Don. And, while this was a great victory, the use of OTs continues to be an issue for PN.

Ucla is on of the most classless, arrogant and cheap teams I’ve seen in years.

The officials were awful and missed a bunch of holes and late hits by Ucla.

Sauls was awesome. Patti was awesome.

Imagine if PN had sat Slovis when he was struggling and let Patti play this season?

Pittband
Pittband
29 days ago
Reply to  Burton Tee

Couldn’t after the Tennessee game, high ankle sprain. Didn’t think he was going to finish yesterday’s game when Nate came in.

kmp30
kmp30
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

Was thinking the same. But just watched Dabo call a fake FG in the first quarter of the Orange bowl leaving 3 pts on the field. What a dumb call.

kmp30
kmp30
29 days ago
Reply to  kmp30

And just watched Dabo follow that up and call for a 55 yard fg, rather than punt, giving TN great field position. Another bone headed call by a stud coach.

Reese26
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

It’s a bowl game and he was playing without a lot of starters. This game doesn’t count for anything anymore and he was evaluating his team for next year. Now you have something to look forward to for next year.

What impressed me is the depth this team has. They beat the No. 18 team in the country with a lot of back-ups, and this game proved what Duzz was alluding to before the game, Patti, should have been the starter the entire year, not that bedwetter Slovis.

Pittband
Pittband
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

Remember Sauls’ kickoff into the wind? That’s why Narduzzi went for the first down late in the 4th. Ben has a strong leg but the attempt would have been at the edge of his range into that wind. Greatest Pitt day I can remember in over 50-years of being a Panther.

Don
Don
29 days ago

And one more thing Nick Patti is truly a class act…wishing the best for this young man!!! Will cheer for him wherever he goes!!

Rooster
Rooster
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

I agree 100%. Farewell Nick !

kmp30
kmp30
29 days ago
Reply to  Don

They should retire his number. Seriously. Ultimate team player. Anyone else would have left a long time ago.

Dixon
Dixon
29 days ago

WHAT A GAME!!!!!
Pitt backups defeat #18 ranked team in the country!!!!!!

Denny
Denny
29 days ago
Reply to  Dixon

Well Said!

Denny
Denny
29 days ago

Where are the ice cream university soda jerks from un happy valley tonight!

Rooster
Rooster
29 days ago
Reply to  Denny

Cow tipping and searching for ewes.

Reese26
29 days ago
Reply to  Denny

Wondering what they;re going to say after they get curb stomped by Utah and won’t have an excuse for not signing the contract to continue the rivalry. Face it, State Penn is a women’s sports school, they can’t play with boys.

Pittband
Pittband
29 days ago
Reply to  Reese26

Don’t want another writer instigated football series with a past foe. Will MF Scott Barnes for signing up the Hoopies. The most classless fans in all of college football.

Craig
Craig
29 days ago
Reply to  Denny

Who cares

Rooster
Rooster
29 days ago

To the players that didn’t opt out – THANK YOU ! To coach Narduzzi for pulling the team together- THANK YOU ! To everyone for not quitting THANK YOU ! Hail to Pitt !

Eli
Eli
29 days ago

Damn, I really thought that game was over when they gave up the go ahead touchdown with under a minute left and no timeouts. Glad to be wrong.

Reese26
29 days ago

Unbelievable win considering the players that sat out. Patti proved what Duzz was eluding to before the game, he should have been the starter all year long, not diaper wetter Slovix.

Craig
Craig
29 days ago
Reply to  Reese26

Duzz finally saw that in the final game of the year?? He needs to be better at picking a starting qb in season

kevin
kevin
29 days ago

Great win! H2P!!!
Stupid coaching at the end, but still pulled out the win.

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