The Turning Point: The Fumble

Lafayette Pitts put Pitt behind the 8-ball early. - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Lafayette Pitts put the ball on the ground early and it cost Pitt

It seems like with every loss Pitt suffers, there is a "what if" moment. During the second half, while the Panthers' offensive line was creating holes even I could run through, it made you wonder what if Pitt wouldn't have spotted Miami an early 14-0 lead. Unfortunately, they did, so Pitt's 220 yards rushing and clock-milking drives didn't mean too much in the second half.

The 14-0 lead that Pitt spotted the Hurricanes began right off the bat. You don't have to look far to see where this game changed to give Miami a 41-31 win over the Panthers at Heinz Field yesterday. Lafayette Pitts had a brutal game (even being benched in the second half) and it started right away.

I found it interesting that I just hung up the phone with a Pitt friend of mine that lives in Jacksonville. We both agreed that with the cold, the Panthers needed to come out of the gate quickly and make Miami know that it would be a long and cold day on the field. Unfortunately, like a few other games this season, the opening kickoff made Pitt fans raise to their feet and all in a moment, hang their heads. Canes' kicker Pat O'Donnell booted the opening kick to the Panthers' 1-yard line, Pitts took it from there and streaked up the near sideline for a great to start out to the 35-yard line. Pitts forgot one thing though...the ball, as it was stripped by O'Donnell himself, and recovered by Garrett Kidd. Three plays later, Miami was up 7-0 and on their way to a win.

Instead of sending a message to the Hurricanes early that they could be in for a long day, Pitts ended up on the receiving end of that memo. A blocked punt on the next series set up Miami for the 14-0 lead and Pitt fans could only wonder if they had started out the game with even a mediocre beginning, what those second half run-heavy drives would have meant to the outcome.

Now Panther fans wait and see if a bowl committee will select them to represent the ACC this postseason.

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

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