Stanford Rallies Past Pitt, Which Ends Season with Three Straight Losses

| January 1, 2019

EL PASO, Texas – Trailing by six going to the fourth quarter with an offense that had been inept through three quarters, Stanford rallied to beat Pitt, 14-13, in the Hyndaui Sun Bowl Monday.

(Photo of Darrin Hall. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

The Cardinal were down 13-6 going to the fourth quarter and had just 91 yards of offense through three quarters with five of those coming on the final play of the third quarter.

But those five yards started an eight-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a lucky bounce for a touchdown that proved to be the winning points.

On first-and-goal at the Pitt 2, Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello tried to run for the touchdown but had the ball stripped by Dewyane Hendrix. But the ball popped into the air and was caught in the end zone by Cameron Scott for the game-tying touchdown. Jet Toner then kicked the extra point, which proved to be the difference with 11:28 to play.

Pitt had a chance to retake the lead on the following possession, but Alex Kessman’s 55-yard field goal try wasn’t close going way right and short with 8:13 to play, and Pitt’s final drive started from its own four and managed to make it to just the 25-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

The Panthers didn’t help themselves on the play prior to Kessman’s miss, as Kenny Pickett fumbled and recovered for a 2-yard loss on third-and-10 from the Stanford 35.

It was another tough day for Pickett, who seemed to regress as the season went on. The sophomore was 11 of 28 passing for 136 yards. This coming off performances of eight yards against Clemson and 130 yards vs. Miami (Fla.). In fact, Pickett threw for less than 200 yards in all by one game this season.

Pickett’s best pass came midway through the third quarter when he hit Taysir Mack, who made a nice adjustment on the ball, for 41 yards to the Cardinal 9-yard line.

But Pitt’s running game stalled from there as A.J. Davis and Darrin Hall combined for negative one yard and Pickett’s third-down pass was incomplete meaning Pitt, which led 10-7 at the time, had to settle for a 28-yard Kessman field goal.

It was the second time Pitt failed to get a touchdown inside the Stanford 10-yard line.

The Panthers had to settle for a 29-yard Kessman field goal on the second play of the second quarter after moving to the Cardinal 10-yard line, where it had first-and-goal.

But two runs by Davis netted six yards, and Pickett was sacked at the 11 on third down.

Two drives later, Stanford took a 7-3 lead on a 1-yard Scarlett touchdown run.

Pitt took a 10-7 halftime lead when Hall scored on a 6-yard run with 2:32 to play in the half.

Hall, a 1,000-yard rusher, led the Panthers with 123 yards rushing on 16 carries but had 93 of those yards before halftime.

But Hall and Davis, who ran for 27 yards on six carries, had to carry the bulk of the load after the Panthers other 1,000-yard rusher, Qadree Ollison was hurt in the first half after gaining 23 yards on five carries.

Costello actually had a worse game than Pickett going 6 of 17 for 105 yards despite going over 3,500 yards on the season. But Scarlett, replacing an injured Bryce Love, who didn’t dress, ran for a career-best 94 yards while scoring twice.

The loss was the third in a row for Pitt, who despite winning the ACC Coastal Division title, finished at 7-7, its second straight non-winning season. It is the first time Pitt has had back-to-back non-winning seasons since 2011 and 2012. The Panthers are just 28-24 under Pat Narduzzi in four years and are 61-57 since going 10-3 in 2009, the last time the Panthers were ranked in the final AP Poll.

Stanford finished the season 9-4.

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