Pitt Vs. Gardner-Webb: Recapping The Panthers' Big Win

Tino Sunseri had another good game against Gardner-Webb (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

This year, we haven't had much in the way of link recaps after games. But with a bye week on our doorstep, we've got some time to take one last look at the Gardner-Webb game.

Pitt got off to a bit of a slow start, going three and out on their first drive and allowing Gardner-Webb to move the ball on each of their first two drives. The Runnin' Bulldogs were pretty glad to be able to keep it close in the first quarter:

"Pitt was a team that started off slow like we did and I told my kids that was a win for us," Dickerson said. "We went into this game trying to figure out who we were and what we wanted to do as we get ready to enter the Big South Conference."

Pitt started a little slowly, but headlines like this one were a bit much: Gardner-Webb fades late in 55-10 loss to Pitt.

Fades late? The Panthers had a two-touchdown lead at the beginning of the third quarter and that was as close as it got. To paint this as anything but as total domination is pretty far off the mark.

So the big concern we all had was that Pitt would again be looking a bit past an FCS team. As they showed, that wasn't the case. ESPN's Matt Fortuna noted something I was particularly glad to see - Pitt didn't let their foot off the gas at all. The Panthers scored 27 points in the first half and piled on with 28 more in the second.

Now, you might wonder why Gardner-Webb would agree to play a team like Pitt. The Post-Gazette had a good handle on it.

In addition to giving its kids a chance to do the unthinkable, beat an FBS team on the road, there's money. Lots of it:

These agreements are more common with each turn of the calendar. Pitt (1-2) will pay Gardner-Webb $475,000 with an eye on securing a victory that will go toward the required six wins to qualify for a bowl game. Gardner-Webb gladly will accept the money because it will help justify the existence of its intercollegiate athletic program at a university that is currently subsidizing about $10 million of the $11 million it takes to run it.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to give a game recap without mentioning how well quarterback Tino Sunseri played. 344 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions is about as much as you can ask for. And throw in the fact that he did it in practically three quarters.

Look, I'm not going to pretend that Sunseri was up against the '85 Bears defense, but he had a great day and did exactly what he needed to do. And wide receiver Devin Street made a good point afterwards:

"He's just a great quarterback," Street said. "If he has time back there, he'll definitely make the plays."

Key words being 'If he has time.' Sunseri's taken a lot of heat - much of it well-deserved. But to blame the kid for all of his poor play is really unfair. He's not had the greatest offensive lines to work with and last year, had little time to make a throw, let alone make reads and run through progressions all while learning a new offense.

As I've said before - this is a pretty bad Gardner-Webb team. As noted in the recap on their official site, this is the worst start they've had in 16 years. But even with that, you've got to be impressed by the way the Panthers came out and dominated the game.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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