The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

November 10, 2013

Pitt upsets Notre Dame

PITTSBURGH — James Conner ran for two short touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 9:36 remaining as Pittsburgh upset No. 24 Notre Dame 28-21 Saturday night.

Tom Savage passed for 243 yards and two scores to Devin Street as the Panthers (5-4) took advantage of some sloppy play by the Fighting Irish (7-3) to end Notre Dame’s four-game winning streak.

The Irish turned it over three times, including a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions by Tommy Rees. Rees completed 18 of 39 for 318 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off by Pitt’s Ray Vinopal on consecutive passes in the final quarter.

TJ Jones caught six passes for 149 yards and a touchdown and ran for another, but Notre Dame’s hopes for a Bowl Championship Series bowl bid vanished in a sloppy final 15 minutes.

The previous five meetings between the two schools had been decided by six points or less, including a triple-overtime escape by the Irish last year in South Bend that kept their perfect regular season alive.

The Panthers blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and a short field goal in overtime that would have pulled off the upset.

This time, Pitt kept its composure and provided coach Paul Chryst with his first signature win since taking over nearly 2 years ago.

Of course, Rees did his part to help.

Notre Dame was driving for a go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter when Rees floated a pass to the back of the end zone that Vinopal leapt in front of to end the threat.

Pitt punted, but Rees gave it right back. He tried to go deep down the seam, but overshot his receiver. The ball sailed into Vinopal’s hands, and the safety returned it 45 yards to the Notre Dame 5. Two plays later, Conner ran up the middle to put Pitt in front to stay.

The Irish drove to the Pitt 38 on their final drive, but Rees’ fourth-down pass to DaVaris Daniels was knocked away by Panthers defensive back Anthony Gonzalez.

The Irish appeared to be in control when Rees hit Jones for an 80-yard touchdown to make it 21-14 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.

The Panthers responded immediately. Savage found Street for a 63-yard score to tie it at 21.

The Irish drove the length of the field but stumbled when Rees’ threw his first pick to Vinopal. Notre Dame never recovered, ending a streak of 10 straight victories in games decided by a touchdown or less.

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