Florida State routs Pitt, 41-13

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For the first five minutes of Pitt's ACC debut Monday night against Florida State, everything went right for the Panthers.

The offense methodically moved the ball down field and gave Pitt a lead against the heavily favored Seminoles.

The sellout crowd at Heinz Field believed that maybe, just maybe, this was the night that Pitt would announce its presence in the Panthers' new conference with an upset win against the defending champions.

Then, Jameis Winston took the field.

The Seminoles' redshirt freshman quarterback picked apart Pitt's defense and gave the Panthers a rude welcome to their new conference as Florida State rolled to a 41-13 win.

Winston was 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. He added 25 yards rushing and ran for a touchdown.

"We never made them uncomfortable," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said.

Winston's Pitt counterpart, Tom Savage, looked sharp on his first drive, but threw two key first-half interceptions that opened the door for Winston and the Seminoles to turn the game into a rout.

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead 4:10 into the game when Savage found tight end Manasseh Garner for a 4-yard touchdown.

On Pitt's second possession, though, Savage's seventh pass hit Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey right in the stomach and set up the Seminoles at the Panthers 24. Two plays later, Winston found tight end Nick O'Leary for a 24-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career. Those two later connected for two more touchdowns.

"That [interception] was a tough one because I thought we had a little bit of momentum going," Chryst said.

Winston completed his first 11 passes. His only first-half incompletion came on a pass to the sideline, where receiver Kenny Shaw caught the ball but couldn't drag his foot inbounds.

Another interception in the second quarter set up the Seminoles in Pitt territory, and once again Winston capitalized on the turnover with another touchdown pass to make it 28-10.

Eventually, Pitt was outgained, 533-297, in total yards.

"A couple of missed assignments," Pitt cornerback K'Waun Williams said.

"I know I let up one out there today and I'm definitely not happy about it."

Despite the strong start, Savage struggled much of the game, showing some signs of rust from a three-year layoff from competitive college football.

Before Monday night, Savage had not played since his sophomore year at Rutgers in 2010.

For as comfortable as Savage looked on the first drive -- when he was 3 of 4 for 51 yards -- he never settled down after the first interception.

The Seminoles defense also pressured him relentlessly and finished with three sacks.

Savage wound up with 15 completions in 28 attempts for 201 yards and the lone touchdown. He threw two interceptions.

"I think the first game back, I got a little antsy, stared down some receivers," Savage said.

If there was a bright spot for Pitt, it was freshman receiver Tyler Boyd.

On his first touch, Boyd took a receiver end-around 18 yards in the first quarter. In the third quarter, he added a nice diving catch along the sideline for another 17.

Including kick returns, Boyd racked up 151 total yards and established himself as a weapon in Pitt's offense.

"I was very surprised how it came [easily] like that," Boyd said.

"I didn't think they were all just going to keep opening up like that for me. After that, I was totally comfortable. I was ready for them to put the ball in my hands."

The Panthers moved mostly in fits in and starts against Florida State's reshuffled defense.

Pitt held Florida State to field goals on its first two drives of the second half, but the Panthers could not capitalize with touchdowns to get back in the game.

Junior Isaac Bennett and freshman James Conner split the carries at running back, but combined for only 72 yards on the ground.

Pitt now has an open and won't be back on the field until Sept. 14 with a home game against New Mexico.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published September 3, 2013 2:15 AM


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