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Pitt blows lead before edging Youngstown State 28-21 in OT

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi joked, kind of, about his team being as vanilla as possible in its season opener against Youngstown State just to make sure the Panthers didn't give away too much with a trip to rival Penn State looming.

Narduzzi stressed Pitt would do what it took to win, just maybe not too much. If that was the game plan, the Panthers nearly executed it to perfection.

Dominant in the first half and dormant in the second, the Panthers needed Jester Weah's leaping 11-yard touchdown catch on the first possession of overtime to escape Youngstown State 28-21 on Saturday. Pitt, which blew a 21-point lead, didn't seal the victory until Bricen Garner's end zone interception let the Panthers escape.

''At halftime, I told our guys, `Hey, this is too easy, let's try to slow down little bit, I want to have a little adversity in the game,''' Narduzzi said, tongue firmly in cheek. ''They listened to me, I guess.''

Almost too well.

The Penguins outgained Pitt but more than 200 yards in the second half, scored three touchdowns and reached overtime when Panthers freshman kicker Alex Kessman missed a field goal at the gun. Pitt didn't panic in the extra period, with Weah's acrobatic grab and Garner's first collegiate pick helping the Panthers avoid their second opening loss to the FCS-level Penguins in six years.

''Everyone wants that first game to be a blowout,'' said Pitt quarterback Max Browne. ''We were forced to stand in there and have a fist fight, which a lot of teams may have to wait 3-4 weeks to get that test, we got it Week 1, right away. You learn a lot and you learn when adversity hits we can come through when it's crunch time.''

Qadree Ollison ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers and finished with a team-high five receptions for 35 yards. Max Browne completed 17 of 24 passes for 140 yards and the winning touchdown in his first start for Pitt after transferring from USC. Browne called it ''business as normal'' but he spent a considerable portion of the second half under pressure. The Penguins sacked him three times, including a fourth-quarter fumble that set up the tying touchdown.

''There's room to grow for sure,'' Brown said.

NEAR MISS

Hunter Wells passed for 311 yards and a pair of scores to running back Christian Turner, but Youngstown State's bid to bookend its 2012 upset of the Panthers ended when Wells overthrew a teammate in the end zone and Garner snagged it out of the air.

''He played a heck of a football game,'' Penguins coach Bo Pelini said of Wells. ''I told him, as a quarterback, the ball gets picked at the end of the game, and he thinks it's his fault. It's not his fault. There were a lot of plays before that where it didn't need to come down to that.''

Turner finished with five receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns and added 32 yards rushing. Youngstown State outgained Pitt 418-348.

KEEPING WITH KESSMAN

Kessman, a true freshman, clanked a 28-yard field goal off the right upright early in the fourth quarter that would have given the Panthers a 17-point lead and later saw his potential game-winner sail wide.

''He has to keep his head up even though he missed a field goal,'' Pitt receiver/return specialist Quadree Henderson said. ''We have faith in him like we had faith in Chris Blewitt last year. We're going to take this win, we're going to run with it.''

THE TAKEAWAY

Youngstown State: The Penguins are eyeing a return trip to the Football Championship Subdivision title game. If they can play with the resilience they showed after trailing by three touchdowns on the road against a Power 5 team, they'll be another tough out if they reach the playoffs.

Pitt: It's far too early to get any sort of read on Browne or new offensive coordinator Shawn Watson as the Panthers kept things simple. The offensive line is going to need to shore things up after allowing the Penguins to make things far too uncomfortable far too often. The pass defense struggled to keep tight ends and running backs in check, an issue with Penn State star Saquon Barkley on the schedule next.

UP NEXT

Youngstown State: Welcomes Robert Morris in its 2017 home opener next Saturday. The Penguins have won both of the previous meetings with the Colonials, including a 38-6 victory last season.

Pitt: The Panthers provided an early jolt to their renewed rivalry with Penn State last year, edging the Nittany Lions in a 42-39 thriller. The rematch awaits in Happy Valley next Saturday.

LAST WORD

''I know you're supposed to hate them, and now I guess I do hate them,'' Browne on Penn State.

---

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Copyright 2017 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
Overtime
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD
97-A.Kessman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
21
28
Touchdown
4-M.Browne complete to 85-J.Weah. 85-J.Weah runs 11 yards for a touchdown.
7
plays
7
yds
pos
21
27
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 3:45
99-Z.Kennedy extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
21
21
Touchdown 3:45
6-H.Wells complete to 20-C.Turner. 20-C.Turner runs 42 yards for a touchdown.
2
plays
42
yds
0:06
pos
20
21
Point After TD 6:10
99-Z.Kennedy extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
21
Touchdown 6:10
6-H.Wells complete to 20-C.Turner. 20-C.Turner runs 25 yards for a touchdown.
10
plays
22
yds
04:30
pos
13
21
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 4:44
99-Z.Kennedy extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
21
Touchdown 4:44
37-T.McCaster runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
12
plays
32
yds
05:22
pos
6
21
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 3:07
97-A.Kessman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
21
Touchdown 3:07
21-A.Davis runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
17
plays
16
yds
08:47
pos
0
20
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 1:50
97-A.Kessman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
14
Touchdown 1:50
37-Q.Ollison runs 5 yards for a touchdown.
12
plays
30
yds
05:07
pos
0
13
Point After TD 9:48
97-A.Kessman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 9:48
37-Q.Ollison runs 6 yards for a touchdown.
12
plays
13
yds
05:03
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 19 24
Rushing 9 15
Passing 10 8
Penalty 0 1
3rd Down Conv 4-11 9-16
4th Down Conv 2-2 3-3
Total Net Yards 407 318
Total Plays 58 77
Avg Gain 7.0 4.1
Net Yards Rushing 107 208
Rush Attempts 26 53
Avg Rush Yards 4.1 3.9
Net Yards Passing 300 110
Comp. - Att. 18-32 17-24
Yards Per Pass 9.4 4.6
Sacked - Yards Lost 1-11 3-30
Penalties - Yards 2-20 2-30
Touchdowns 3 4
Rushing TDs 1 3
Passing TDs 2 1
Other 0 0
Turnovers 2 0
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 0
Punts - Avg 3-39.0 2-40.5
Return Yards 33 71
Punts - Returns 0-0 0-0
Kickoffs - Returns 2-33 3-71
Int. - Returns 0-0 1-0
Kicking 3/4 4/6
Extra Points 3/3 4/4
Field Goals 0/1 0/2
Safeties 0 0
1234 OTT
Youngstown St. 0-1 00714021
Pittsburgh 1-0 14700728
300 PASS YDS 110
107 RUSH YDS 208
407 TOTAL YDS 318
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
H. Wells 6 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
56.3% 311 2 1 152.3
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
56.3% 311 2 1 152.3
H. Wells 18/32 311 2 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
T. McCaster 37 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
19 73 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
19 73 1
T. McCaster 19 73 1 13
C. Turner 20 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 32 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
3 32 0
C. Turner 3 32 0 14
A. Bailey 5 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 9 0
A. Bailey 1 9 0 9
N. Mays 7 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
N. Mays 1 2 0 2
S. Kuhn 86 TE
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
S. Kuhn 1 2 0 2
H. Wells 6 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 -11 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 -11 0
H. Wells 1 -11 0 -11
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
C. Turner 20 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 124 2
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 124 2
C. Turner 5 124 2 42
K. Rader 83 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 100 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 100 0
K. Rader 6 100 0 36
A. Bailey 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 55 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 55 0
A. Bailey 4 55 0 25
D. Patterson 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 27 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 27 0
D. Patterson 2 27 0 18
T. McCaster 37 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 5 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 5 0
T. McCaster 1 5 0 5
S. Derrick II 13 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
S. Derrick II 0 0 0 0
S. St. Surin 82 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
S. St. Surin 0 0 0 0
I. Scott 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
I. Scott 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
F. Chapman 98 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
F. Chapman 1-0 1.0 0
W. Thompson 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
W. Thompson 1-0 1.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
Z. Kennedy 99 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/1 3/3
SEASON FG XP
0/1 3/3
Z. Kennedy 0/1 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
M. Schuler 85 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
3 39.0 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
3 39.0 2
M. Schuler 3 39.0 2 57
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Turner 20 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 16.5 17 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
2 16.5 17 0
C. Turner 2 16.5 17 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
M. Browne 4 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
70.8% 140 1 0 133.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
70.8% 140 1 0 133.6
M. Browne 17/24 140 1 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
Q. Ollison 37 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
22 91 2
SEASON ATT YDS TD
22 91 2
Q. Ollison 22 91 2 13
Q. Henderson 10 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
9 77 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
9 77 0
Q. Henderson 9 77 0 17
D. Hall 22 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
13 52 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
13 52 0
D. Hall 13 52 0 10
A. Davis 21 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 8 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
4 8 1
A. Davis 4 8 1 3
M. Browne 4 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 -20 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
5 -20 0
M. Browne 5 -20 0 13
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
M. Flanagan 88 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 35 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 35 0
M. Flanagan 2 35 0 30
Q. Ollison 37 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 35 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 35 0
Q. Ollison 5 35 0 30
M. Ffrench 2 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 19 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 19 0
M. Ffrench 3 19 0 18
D. Hall 22 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 12 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 12 0
D. Hall 2 12 0 7
J. Weah 85 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 11 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 11 1
J. Weah 1 11 1 11
J. Desire' 86 DL
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 10 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 10 0
J. Desire' 1 10 0 10
Q. Henderson 10 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 7 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 7 0
Q. Henderson 1 7 0 7
A. Mathews 6 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 6 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 6 0
A. Mathews 1 6 0 6
R. Araujo-Lopes 82 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 5 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 5 0
R. Araujo-Lopes 1 5 0 5
Defense T-A SACK INT
A. Watts 34 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
A. Watts 1-0 1.0 0
B. Garner 27 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-0 1 0.0
B. Garner 0-0 0.0 1
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
A. Kessman 97 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/2 4/4
SEASON FG XP
0/2 4/4
A. Kessman 0/2 0 4/4 4
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
R. Winslow 18 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
2 40.5 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
2 40.5 1
R. Winslow 2 40.5 1 47
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
Q. Henderson 10 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 23.7 28 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
3 23.7 28 0
Q. Henderson 3 23.7 28 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:41 YST 19 2:36 7 45 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 YST 25 3:01 9 49 FG Miss
3:07 YST 25 1:42 3 7 Punt
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 YST 25 1:15 4 16 Punt
10:06 YST 10 5:22 12 32 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 YST 30 2:03 5 31 Punt
10:40 YST 20 4:30 10 22 TD
4:23 PITT 42 0:38 3 42 TD
OT POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
PITT 25 4 0 End of game
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:51 PITT 29 5:03 12 13 TD
6:57 PITT 12 5:07 12 30 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:54 PITT 26 8:47 17 16 TD
1:11 PITT 11 0:43 2 6 End of quarter
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:35 PITT 23 3:21 8 33 Punt
4:36 PITT 25 3:10 5 5 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:35 YST 4 1:52 4 -76 FG Miss
6:03 PITT 30 1:34 5 28 FUMBLE
3:35 PITT 25 3:31 12 55 End of quarter
OT POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
YST 25 7 7 TD