UConn 34, Pitt 14; Bostick To Start

UConn 34, Pitt 14; Bostick To Start

The Pitt football team lost its Big East-opening game against Connecticut, 34-14 Saturday night at Heinz Field, but it appeared to find a starting quarterback.

Pittsburgh (2-2) opened the second half with freshman Pat Bostick in relief of starter Kevan Smith, a redshirt freshman, and finally moved the ball with their passing game. But Pitt turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions by its quarterbacks, and did not force any.

"Pat Bostick will start this week, I'll say that right now'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I'll make that real clear. ... I thought he handled (things) pretty well. He got probably less than half the reps in practice, and we tried to be a little conservative with him early, getting the ball to the fullback.

"And he probably was making conservative decisions early, too. But, for his first time in live action, I thought he did a nice job. But we have to eliminate the turnovers or it'll be the same story next week.''

In the first half, Smith was 3-for-9 for 29 yards with one interception and two sacks, as Pitt's third-down woes continued with the streak extended to 22 straight without a conversion. Smith was injured in the first half, but Wannstedt said he already had made the decision to switch quarterbacks.

Bostick was intercepted three times, including one that was returned 51 yards for a touchdown, but he finished with 27-for-41 passing for 230 yards and a beautiful 21-yard touchdown toss to Oderick Turner. The scoring drive, executed by Bostick's passing, covered 86 yards in 10 plays and 3:24. He nearly led a final scoring drive as well, but was picked off in the end zone during the waning seconds. Bostick was not made available to the media.

"We've got to find a way to win as a team,'' Wannstedt said, "and not go into games trying not to lose it on offense and try to muster up a way to score enough points to win. ... I know we have guys with a lot of talent, and we're trying to utilize that talent to the best of our ability.

"But on offense, we've taken a couple steps backward and our going back to the drawing board. ... And we can't turn the ball over so often.''

Last week, freshman tailback LeSean McCoy was Pitt's best player with more than 170 rushing yards on 25 carries, but he had just 11 against UConn for 70 yards. And even when the Panthers went to the Wildcat offensive set, junior LaRod Stephens-Howling was took the direct snaps from center. McCoy also caught six passes for 16 yards.

McCoy appeared to energize Pitt in the second quarter, even though the Panthers were trailing 10-0 early, and keyed a four-play, 62-yard drive in just 1:40 midway through the quarter. McCoy passed to tight end Nate Byham for 18 yards out of the Wildcat and then ran for 24 to the 20. After a one-yard gain, McCoy raced 19 yards through a big hole for the score. However, he did not start the second half and only got a few carries.

"LaRod started the game, and both of those guys were getting those carries,'' Wannstedt said. "Shady will get plenty of work, but ... LaRod gives us as good a chance to win if we execute. And we've got to be able to run the ball better.''

The game turned on the ensuing UConn possession, as the Huskies drove 60 yards in eight plays and 3:42. Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen was sacked by Joe Clermond on first down for minus-14, but completed three passes -- two to D.J. Hernandez and one to Westmont-Hilltop grad Brad Kanuce for 13 yards -- and also scrambled for 10 to get into scoring range. Donald Brown pounded in from the 3 to give UConn a 17-7 advantage and take the wind out of Pitt.

"That was huge,'' Pitt middle linebacker Scott McKillop said. "We had a chance to get off the field and couldn't do it. They completed a lot of third-down plays and that score just gave the momentum right back to them.''

UConn also got a one-yard TD run by Lou Allen with 32 seconds left in the first half and a 39-yard field goal as time expired following Smith's pick.

Notes: Pitt shuffled its starting lineup. Joe Thomas opened at RG, and Mike McGlynn was at RT for Jason Pinkston. On defense, Tommie Duhart started at DT, and Aaron Berry was the field cornerback. ... Attendance was 40,145.

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