Pitt Panthers give up 14 unanswered points, fall 24-10

Written By Kayla Sterner, Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Panthers (4-3, 1-2 ACC) defense couldn’t slow down the Louisville Cardinals (4-3, 2-3 ACC) eager fourth quarter play. Pitt, the ninth-ranked team in the ACC thus far in the season, let up 14 unanswered points in the last quarter to fall 24-10 in Cardinal Stadium. 

Despite summing up more yards than the Cardinals (326 compared to 312, respectively) and having possession of the ball for nearly five more minutes, the Panthers’ couldn’t find their groove and proved to be their own biggest enemy.

Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis had 16 completions in 29 attempted passes, two interceptions and 158 passing yards. Pittsburgh’s offense fumbled the ball four times and Slovis was responsible for three of the turnovers.

A 12-yard run courtesy of junior running back Israel Abanikanda in the first quarter was the Panther’s sole touchdown of the game. Pitt did not get on the board again until the third quarter, after a 37-yard field goal from kicker Ben Sauls. 

Abanikanda led the offense in both receiving and rushing yards, totaling 129 rushing yards and one touchdown in 29 attempts as well as mustering up 50 receiving yards in three receptions. 

The Cardinals showcased three gunslinger’s in their offensive attack. Senior QB Malik Cunningham threw two touchdowns, one interception and 122 yards in his 10-for-21 performance. Junior Brock Domann was 2-for-5 with 35 yards and senior wide receiver Braden Smith was 1-for-1 with 33 yards.

After being tied at the half seven a-piece and a quiet third quarter, the Cardinals offense entered the final 15 minutes with a greater sense of urgency than the Panthers. A nine-yard pass from Cunningham to senior tight-end Josh Lifson gave Louisville their first lead of the night (14-10) with 9:45 remaining. 

Louisville lost 70 yards on six penalties, but was able to capitalize on Pittsburgh’s miscues.

Their next possession led to a  48-yard field goal from junior kicker James Turner, and junior defensive back Kei’Trel Clark took advantage of a sack fumble, forced by senior linebacker Yasir Abdullah, and returned the pigskin 59 yards with 3:03 left to play. 

It was too late for Pitt’s offense to muster up a comeback. 

“We didn’t make enough plays offensively,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “When you put the ball on the ground, that just can’t happen. We’ve got to protect the ball better. Not going to win many ball games minus-3 (turnover margin) again.”

The Panthers will travel to North Carolina next to face the No. 21 ranked Tar Heels. Kick off is set for 8p.m.