Pitt had no shortage of stars against the Falcons at Ford Field last night. The defense had a highlight reel of sacks, while Chad Voytik stepped in for an injured Tom Savage in the second half, and Tyler Boyd had a whale of a game. In fact, Boyd would normally have taken home the Panther of the Game award hands-down if it wasn't for James Conner. The true freshman from Erie, PA has Panther fans excited for next season and his Pizza Bowl performance paved the way for Pitt to finish with a 7-6 record with an exciting 30-27 victory over Bowling Green in Detroit last night.
The bruising back gave Pitt a huge spark in the first half and sometimes ran straight through the Bowling Green defense for a total of 229 yards on 26 carries. That gave Conner a whopping 8.8 yards per carry and one touchdown. He was able to edge out Boyd's 173 receiving yards and a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown to be the Panther of the Game. It wasn't just the amount of yards that Conner had in the game, but the way he did it. He ran over Bowling Green and stiff-armed the MAC Champs. Lastly, James added a bit of nastiness to his brutal thrashing of the Falcon defense last night. After Pitt's first two offensive series, Conner's running style and in-your-face attitude seemed to give Pitt a lift after a less than thrilling start.
Also, don't forget that Conner also played a little defensive end? Yup ... since Pitt had a big lack of depth in this game on the defensive line with Bryan Murphy being out, James had to fill in a little. No big deal for Conner, though. He didn't make too many plays on defense, but he did draw a huge holding penalty that halted the last Bowling Green drive to give Pitt the win. With the performance last night, Panther fans have to be salivating at the thought of at least two more years of bullish back.