The Pitt Panthers suffered a 54-34 loss to Rutgers today before a crowd of 51,161 at Heinz Field today but they may have even more to worry about looking ahead because their starting quarterback, Bill Stull, was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with what appears to be some kind of a head or neck injury.
Stull was not able to walk off the field and had to be taken off on a stretcher cart but did give the "thumbs up" sign as he was rolling off the field and details of his injury are not immediately available.
Meanwhile, the game itself, however, was wild and wacky as neither defense was able to do much to slow the opposing offense down.
But the Panthers made a few more mistakes than the Scarlet Knights, who have won four games in a row in this series, and it cost them the game.
And the 54 points scored by Rutgers is the most scored against a Pitt defense since Nov. 16th 1996 -- Johnny Majors last season as coach -- when Notre Dame beat the Panthers 60-6.
In fact, this is only the fourth time since that game that the Panthers have given up 50 or more points in a game -- and the other three times were by West Virginia (1998, 1999 and 2003) and the Mountaineers scored 52 on all three occasions.
Pitt (5-2, 2-1 in the Big East) got on the board first on a 33-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy but Rutgers tied the game on the ensuing drive on a 60-yard pass from Mike Teel to Tim Brown. Then, after Rutgers (3-5, 2-2) stopped a bad attempt at a fake field goal by Pitt, the Scarlet Knights needed only one play -- a 79-yard pass from Teel to Kenny Britt -- to take a 14-7 lead.
Pitt's Conor Lee then missed a 45-yard field attempt and Rutgers took over at its 28 and drove 72 yards on 10 plays and capped the drive when Britt caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Teel. Pitt's Greg Romeus blocked the extra point attempt but the Scarlet Knights still led 20-7.
The Panthers needed only three plays to pull to within 20-14 -- McCoy scored a touchdown on a 22 yard run -- but the Scarlet Knights came right back and scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Teel to Britt to push the lead back to 13 points.
McCoy scored his third touchdown of the half -- on a 1-yard run -- to get Pitt back to within 27-21 -- but once again, Rutgers struck right back and pushed the lead to 34-21 on a 3-yard pass from Teel to Kevin Brock.
Lee closed the scoring in the first half by converting a 43-yard field goal.
The two teams traded touchdowns early in the third quarter -- McCoy had a 1-yard run for Pitt then Teel hit Brown with a 36-yard touchdown pass -- so Rutgers held a 41-31 lead with 7:37 to play in the third quarter and kicked off to Pitt.
But on the ensuing drive, Stull was hit after he threw an incomplete pass and he was knocked out of the game.
The initial hit on the play was what knocked Stull to the ground and he would have been OK except Stull hit the back of his head on the back of running back LeSean McCoy, who was being pushed back by the bull-rush of a Rutgers defender.
Pat Bostick replaced Stull and in his first series, threw an interception which was returned 74 yards to the Pitt 8 by linebacker Kevin Malast. The next play Rutgers took a 48-31 lead -- and ended any doubt about the outcome -- on an 8-yard touchdown run by Kordell Young.
Paul Zeise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1720.