Recap: Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Swizter returned two punt returns for scores to lift the North Carolina Tar Heels to a 34-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers in an Atlantic Coast Conference battle at Heinz Field.
North Carolina (5-5, 4-3 ACC) was led offensively by Marquise Williams, who hit on 15-of-27 pass attempts for 173 yards. Williams also gained 79 yards on the ground along with two touchdowns on 15 carries. Eric Ebron led the Tar Heels with 73 yards and three receptions.
The Panthers (5-5, 2-4) failed to become bowl eligible despite a strong showing by Tom Savage, who finished 23-of-38 passing with 313 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort. James Conner had 102 yards and a touchdown on 19 rushing attempts. Tyler Boyd led all receivers with 92 yards and five catches.
Chris Blewitt put the Panthers on the board as he converted a 28-yard field goal attempt just under five minutes after the opening kickoff.
North Carolina responded with four unanswered scores. Williams found the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first stanza to put the Tar Heels up, 7-3. Thomas Moore then made a 26-yard field goal try with 11:02 left in the first half. Williams ran for another score, as he dashed 10 yards across the goal line. Switzer returned a punt 65 yards for the score with just over a minute left in the second frame to send UNC into the intermission with a 24-3 advantage.
The Tar Heels continued their run in the third quarter as Moore chipped in a 27-yard field goal attempt after their defensive unit set them up with a short field by recovering a fumble at the Panthers' 12-yard line.
The Panthers finally ended their drought as they responded with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Savage to Devin Street to cut the deficit to 27-10 at the 8:13 mark of the third period.
Pittsburgh continued to rally back in the fourth quarter as Savage hit Isaac Bennett on an 8-yard touchdown pass to bring the home team within ten points with 13:28 remaining. After the Panthers' defense recovered a fumble at the UNC 28-yard line, Blewitt then made it a one-possession game as he made a 42- yard field goal to make the score 27-20 with just under 10 minutes left to play.
The Panthers registered another takeaway as Malcolm Crockett jarred the ball loose on T Logan's ensuing kick return and Jason Hendricks recovered the fumble at the Tar Heels' 12-yard line. Pittsburgh then managed to tie the score with 8:52 showing on the clock as Conner punched it in from two yards out Pittsburgh scored 24 unanswered points.
North Carolina regained the lead as Switzer returned a punt 61 yards for a score with just under five minutes left in regulation.
The Panthers were unable to respond as their next drive ended when Conner was stopped behind the line on fourth-and-one.
North Carolina had seven sacks for 86 yards in the game. Pittsburgh lost despite out-gaining the Tar Heels, 359-322, in total yards of offense.Game Notes