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Pitt-Georgia Tech Turning Point: James Conner's fumble

James Conner's face says it all.
James Conner's face says it all.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Were do I start? Seriously...where?

In a game that saw Pitt fumble five times in the first quarter, but still only down 14 at halftime and where Pitt was still down 14 in the fourth quarter and had two dropped passes to turn it back over, it's difficult to pick a turning point.

The one that I keep coming back to is James Conner's fumble.

Pitt went down early 7-0 on a Chad Voytik fumble on the first drive of the game that Georgia Tech turned into a touchdown. Pitt and their fans were stunned, but not out of it by any means.  After the ensuing kickoff gave the Panthers the ball at their own 25-yard line, Pitt turned to James Conner. Conner dashed to the left side, stepped out of a tackle attempt by safety Isaiah Johnson at his own 40, and was off to the races down the left sideline. With Yellow Jackets giving chase, Conner appeared to ease up just a bit inside the 10-yard line towards the end zone. That gave Georgia Tech's D.J. White just enough time to punch the ball out of Conner's arm and into the end zone for a touch back.

From there, the Panther defense gave up a a 79-yard touchdown pass on a misdirection play from Justin Thomas to Charles Perkins to give GT a 14-0 lead en route to a 56-28 torching of Pitt on homecoming. You can look at any number of plays that doomed Pitt on Saturday (including the touchdown by Perkins as that was on a third-and-nine), but this set the tone to dig the Panthers into a big hole in the first five minutes of the game and they never recovered.

Despite some big plays that could have put the Panthers right back into the game yesterday, this is the one that really hurt and started the snowball going downhill fast.

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