On a rainy night at Heinz Field, the Pitt Panthers overcame an early deficit to take down the Old Dominion Monarchs 35-24. Pitt found themselves down in an early 10-0 first quarter hole. Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke engineered an impressive opening drive that resulted in a 15 touchdown pass to Marquel Thomas. After a punt by Pitt, Old Dominion's Jarod Brown kicked a Heinz Field record 54 yard field goal to take the lead to 10-0. Then, Isaac Bennett happened.
Bennett dominated the second quarter and scored touchdown runs of 25, 3, and 16 yards to give Pitt a 21-10 halftime lead. Bennett broke career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns before the half ended. He finished the day with 30 carries for 240 yards and 3 scores.
The second half got a little murky for the Panthers. After an impressive time consuming drive capped off with a spectacular Manasseh Garner 21 yard touchdown to start the half, things got interesting. The Monarchs answered with a 47 yard touchdown pass from Heinicke, and they recovered the ensuing onsides kick. Old Dominion scored again less than two minutes later on an Antonio Vaughn 17 yard run to cut the deficit to 28-24.
Pitt was able to add some cushion on a Tom Savage (yes, Tom Savage) 5-yard touchdown run to set the final at 35-24. The teams combined for 24 penalties, and at times the game got very sloppy in the second half with an abundance of flags. Pitt was able to seal the deal by keeping Old Dominion off the scoreboard for the entire fourth quarter.
It was certainly not pretty, but it was a win. Pitt moves to 4-2 on the season, just where most expected them to be at this point. Isaac Bennett had a career game, but not much else can be taken from this game as a positive, other than they got the W. Tom Savage looked out of it from the start, and only finished with 104 yards. It should be noted Pitt played without leading receiver, Devin Street and his presence was visibly missed.
My best advice from this one is be happy they got the win. Pitt still has plenty to work on, but should receive some aid from some returning injured players in the coming weeks. The Panthers will head to Annapolis next week to take on Navy for their first of two consecutive road games (Georgia Tech) before they welcome Notre Dame to Heinz Field on November 9.