The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

November 23, 2012

Pitt eyes upset vs. Rutgers

PITTSBURGH — Normally, Pitt spends the Thanksgiving holiday preparing to play West Virginia, but the Backyard Brawl came to an end, at least temporarily, when the Mountaineers accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference and the Panthers subsequently opted to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Instead of West Virginia, Pitt plays No. 21 Rutgers (9-1) today at Heinz Field in the Panthers’ final home game as a member of the Big East Conference. Kickoff is at noon, and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

Rutgers is on its way out, too. On Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights announced they will join the Big Ten in 2014.

Though the Pitt-Rutgers rivalry doesn’t date back a century or have a catchy nickname, the two schools started playing each other in 1981. Pitt holds a 21-8 lead in the all-time series. Since 2005, the Scarlet Knights are 5-2 against Pitt, including a 34-10 win last year.

“They’re good,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said of the Scarlet Knights at Monday’s press conference. “They really are, and their numbers back it up.”

Rutgers’ lone loss was to No. 23 Kent State.

“At this point, you’re 9-1,” Chryst said. “You’ve done a lot, and it’s not by accident.”

Chryst and his Panthers, who are coming off a bye week, said that Rutgers has a lot of offensive weapons.

“I think their backs are really talented,” Chryst said. “They’re doing a good job as a team. Defensively, they’re taking the ball away; offensively they’re protecting it. They have receivers that can hurt you, and they’ve played off each other and well as a team.”

Rutgers leads the Big East in turnovers forced with 27. Meanwhile, Pitt only has seven turnovers on the season. The Scarlet Knights are also among the best special teams units in the country with eight blocked kicks.

But perhaps the most impressive part of the Rutgers game is its defense. The Scarlet Knights are fourth in the country in scoring defense. They allow just 12.4 points per game and are known for stopping the run.

Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri continues to put up impressive numbers each week. He has thrown 206 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest active streak in the country. Sunseri also ranks 12th nationally and second in the Big East in pass efficiency with a 159.14 rating. He has completed 200 of 297 passes at 67 percent on the year and has thrown for 2,665 yards and 16 touchdowns with just two interceptions.

Rutgers sophomore quarterback Gary Nova has a Pitt connection himself. Nova committed to Pitt in 2010, but he soon decommitted after Dave Wannstedt was forced to resign as Pitt’s coach.

Currently, Nova has a quarterback rating of 137.9 with 2,125 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Although his numbers may not match up to Sunseri’s, Nova is still doing what it takes to lead his team to victory.

“Rutgers is the only undefeated Big East team,” Chryst said. “Obviously their record speaks for themselves.”

And the Scarlet Knights will try to add another win to that record today. They are also looking to take a monumental step in the history of their football program. They hope to claim the school’s first-ever Big East title.

The rest depends on how No. 19 Louisville performs against Connecticut this week. If the Cardinals win, Rutgers and Louisville will play next week for the automatic BCS bowl bid.

For Pitt, it’s the seniors’ final game at Heinz Field. Some players on their way out include Sunseri, wide receiver Mike Shanahan, center Chris Jacobson, kicker Kevin Harper, running back Ray Graham and defensive back Jarred Holley.

Despite a 24-17 loss to Connecticut two weeks ago and uneven play throughout the season, the Panthers still have an opportunity to earn a bowl bid, but must win out in order for that to happen.

“It’s been different things each game,” Chryst said. “We’ve got to learn from those lessons.”

In his first year with Pitt, Chryst said he is trying to instill his own set of values into the program.

“We’re in the process of creating a culture,” Chryst said. “We’re here to make players the best they can be and to represent the university the best we can.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide