Pitt defensive end Aaron Donald and the Panthers defense struggled to contain the Youngstown State offense in a 31-17 defeat. (US Presswire)
Youngstown State won. Exactly five years after Appalachian State pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history, Youngstown State became the latest FCS school to knock off a BCS program. Like Appalachian State, the Penguins are a vastly underrated team that could contend for an FCS championship. The loss marks the first time Pitt has been defeated by an FCS team in school history.
“My hat goes off to Youngstown State,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “They are very well coached. They're a good team. Tonight they were the better team. We've certainly got to become a better football team. I believe this group can go forward -- we will go forward.”
Why Youngstown State won. Chryst thought highly of Kurt Hess heading into the game and the Youngstown State quarterback delivered. Hess went 13 of 23 for 154 yards, but more importantly failed to make any glaring mistakes. The Panthers, meanwhile, committed two critical fumbles, including one early by running back Ray Graham that led to a Penguins touchdown.
When Youngstown State won. The Penguins sealed the victory when Pitt wide receiver Devin Street lost a fumble with less than three minutes remaining. Minutes earlier, Penguins running back Andre Stubbs converted on a key third down with a back-breaking 36-yard run.
What Youngstown State won. Respectability. Youngstown State coach Eric Wolford's team proved they could hang with the big boys last season in a close loss to Michigan State. The win over Pittsburgh might be the biggest in program history since Jim Tressel left for Ohio State more than a decade ago.
What Pittsburgh lost. Confidence. Before the game, Chryst suspended six players for disciplinary reasons. Even if the six had played, the Panthers might not have avoided the upset. For Chryst, the suspensions might be more disconcerting than the defeat. The list included freshman running back Rushel Shell and defensive end Tyrone Ezell.
“That is an area in this program that will not be sacrificed and we will hold our players accountable for it,” Chryst said. “We are a family. We have some matters we need to take care of.”
Graham rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries in his first game since tearing the ACL in his right knee last October.
“It felt great to get back out there,” Graham said. “I wasn't really thinking about it, I just had to get hit (once).”
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