By TODD KARPOVICH
ANNAPOLIS, Md. —
Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst thought his team did a solid job most of the game containing Navy and its high-powered rushing attack.
The Panthers, however, appeared to tire in the fourth quarter and allowed the Midshipmen to put together a late rally. A 30-yard field-goal by Nick Sloan as time expired gave Navy a 24-21 victory. The Panthers allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter after dominating most of the game.
“Give Navy credit, in a 60-minute game, they found a way to win,” Chryst said. “I thought our guy’s effort was nothing short of what I expected. Obviously, we did not make enough plays to win the game.”
Tom Savage completed 20 of 27 pass attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns for Pitt (4-3).
Pittsburgh’s Devin Street caught nine passes for 96 yards with a touchdown and became the school’s all-time leading receiver. Street now has 186 career receptions, surpassing Latef Grim, who had 178 from 1998-2000.
Trailing 14-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Savage threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to freshman Tyler Boyd to give the Panthers a 20-14 lead. Street then caught a short pass for the 2-point conversion.
Navy responded on the ensuing possession and tied the game on a 10-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 2-yard run by quarterback Keenan Reynolds with 3:53 left in the game.
The Midshipmen (4-3) snapped a two-game losing streak and need just two wins to become eligible for a bowl game.
Navy finally got into a rhythm in the second half and put together their most impressive drive of the game to take a 14-13 lead with 14:28 left in the game.
Reserve fullback Quinton Singleton’s 9-yard scoring run capped the 16-play, 91-yard scoring drive that took 8:15 off the clock. The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter before Sloan kicked the game-winner.
“It’s every kickers dream to be in this situation,” Sloan said. “It’s definitely what separates the good kickers from the bad kickers. I just thought of it as just another kick. That’s all I can do.”
“Pittsburgh is a good football team,” Reynolds said. “They are a big, BCS team. This is a good win for our program.”
The Midshipmen then forced a 3-and-out on the Panthers’ next possession and got the ball at Pitt’s 49. Navy ran 11 plays to set up Sloan’s game-winning kick.
Pitt opened a 3-0 lead on its first drive on a 25-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt on a 16-play, 68 yard drive that took 7:32 off the clock. After Don Pearson recovered a fumble by James Conner to open the second quarter, Navy took the lead on a pass from Reynolds that deflected off Geoffrey Whiteside and was caught by senior Marcus Thomas, who ran 58 yards for first career touchdown.
Another 44-yard field goal by Blewitt pulled Pitt to within 7-6 with 9:23 left in the half. The Panthers then took a 13-7 lead eight minutes later on a 12-yard pass from Tom Savage to Street.
The Panthers completely dominated the first half and held the edge in total plays (44-22), time of possession (22:07-7:53) and yardage (252-135).
“We did a good job containing them in the first half,” Chryst said. “However, Navy’s field position changed in the second half and gave them a shorter distance to the end zone. We did not do a good enough job to change the field position.”
Navy entered the game ranked sixth in the nation with 304.2 rushing yards per game, and managed 220 against the Panthers.