Sports Penn State vs. Pitt RECAP, score and stats

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The University of Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0), led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, met the Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0), led by quarterback Trace McSorley, in a Week 2 NCAA college football game on Saturday, September 8, 2018 (9/8/18) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Check the scoreboard above for the final score and click on the stats link for game stats.

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Here’s the AP recap:

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Trace McSorley threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as No. 13 Penn State pulled away for a 51-6 victory over sloppy Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

KJ Hamler ran 32 yards for a score and hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from McSorley as the Nittany Lions (2-0) bounced back from an opening week scare against Appalachian State to dominate their 99th meeting with the Panthers (1-1). McSorley finished 14 of 30 for 145 yards in the rain at soggy Heinz Field.

Penn State running back Miles Sanders ran for 118 yards, and DeAndre Thompson returned a punt 39 yards for a touchdown.

That was more than enough to beat Pitt in what could be the Nittany Lions’ last trip to Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. There are no plans for the rivalry to continue beyond next year’s game at Beaver Stadium.

Considering how things went in the second half that might not be a bad thing for either side. Penn State’s margin of victory was the third-largest by either team in a series that dates to 1893. The chants of “We Are … Penn State” rang throughout the stadium in the final minutes.

Pitt senior Qadree Ollison ran for 119 yards and a 13-yard score for Pitt, but went nowhere after halftime. Neither did the Panthers. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled in the steady rain, completing just 9 of 18 passes for 55 yards. Pickett also ran for 30 yards, but spent most of the night under heavy pressure. He was sacked four times and took a handful of jarring hits when he was able to scramble for positive yardage.

The blowout finish seemed unlikely late in the first half. Penn State led just 7-6 with a minute to go before Pitt began self-destructing. Punter Kirk Christodoulou dropped a snap and the Nittany Lions took over in Pitt territory. McSorley needed just three plays to find Hamler to put the Nittany Lions up 14-6 at the break.

It was all Penn State after that. McSorley scored on a 4-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, Pickett was sacked for a safety minutes later, and when Thompson took a punt at the 39 and veered to his left to race untouched to the end zone, the Nittany Lions were firmly in control.

Pitt did plenty to help Penn State pull away. The Panthers were flagged 14 times for 116 yards — including an unsportsmanlike call on head coach Pat Narduzzi — turned it over three times and provided no response when the Nittany Lions got serious.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have found a capable replacement for Saquon Barkley. Sanders spent two years patiently waiting for his turn and he seems more than equal to the task. His numbers would have been even more impressive if not for an illegal block in the back in the first half that nullified a significant chunk of what would have been an 80-yard gain.

Pitt: For all of Pickett’s moxie, the sophomore quarterback is going to need receivers who can get open to take some of the pressure off the running game. He completed just two passes — for 17 yards — to wide receivers through three quarters. The rest came in garbage time.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Nittany Lions slid three spot last week after needing overtime to escape Appalachian State. They could possibly tick back up a bit for the way they completely shut down Pitt in the second half.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Nittany Lions host Kent State next Saturday.

Pitt: Opens ACC play next Saturday when Georgia Tech visits.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who: Pittsburgh vs. Penn State

What: College football, Week 2

When: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018

Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Time: 8 p.m. Eastern

TV: ABC

Livestream: WatchESPN

Line: Penn State -8.5

Series record: Penn State leads 51-43-4.

Big Ten power rankings

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Nittany Lions dipped in the polls after a narrow overtime escape against Appalachian State in the opener. Pitt offers an opportunity to bounce back. Why is that important besides the obvious? A loss to the Panthers two years ago eventually kept Penn State from making the College Football Playoff. Pitt believes it has the tools to take a step forward in head coach Pat Narduzzi’s fourth year.

KEY MATCHUP

Pitt’s secondary vs. Penn State QB Trace McSorely: The Panthers were missing three contributors in the secondary in their opener against Albany and there’s no guarantee Dane Jackson, Jason Pinnock or Phil Campbell will be available to face the Nittany Lions. That leaves a group long on potential but short on experience to keep McSorely, a Heisman Trophy candidate, in check.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Penn State: OLB Micah Parsons. The high-profile freshman had four tackles and recovered an onside kick in his college debut. On a defense trying to replace eight starters, Parsons needs to develop quickly to help put heat on Pitt sophomore Kenny Pickett.

Pitt: RBs Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison. The best way to keep McSorely in check is to keep him off the field. A productive day from the two senior running backs would help the Panthers do just that. Both should come in fresh after being used sparingly (11 combined carries) in the opener against Albany.

FACTS & FIGURES

The teams have split the two meetings since the series renewed in 2016, both winning on home turf. … Pitt has won two straight over Penn State in Pittsburgh. The Panthers haven’t won three consecutive home games against the Nittany Lions since 1944-46. … McSorley has thrown a touchdown in 29 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. … Penn State RB Miles Sanders set career highs in yards rushing (91), attempts (19) and rushing touchdowns (two) against Appalachian State. … This is the final game in Pittsburgh between the longtime rivals for the foreseeable future. There are no games scheduled past next year’s meeting at Beaver Stadium.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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