Before getting to this week's Turning Point of the Game, let's give honorable mention to a worthy runner up. The first play of the second half saw Pitt just miss a sack and Syracuse QB Eric Dungey take off upfield. While being dragged down for a three-yard gain, he took a wallop from Panther linebacker Nicholas Grigsby and looked to be knocked out for a split second. Dungey left the game for a short time and came back.
The uncertainty on which play to pick was due to Dungey's play after he came back. He did not look like himself and threw two interceptions in the second half. Was he right? Only the Syracuse medical staff and Dungey knows for sure. But that play seemingly changed Syracuse's fortunes the rest of the way.
With that in mind, the selection for the game's turning point yesterday was the team's fake punt, which propelled the team to a 23-20 win. Pitt received the ball with 9:20 left in the game and after a penalty were starting at their own 5-yard line. It was crunch time and the Panthers started to drive, but stalled at their own 48-yard line. They faced a fourth down and seven yards to go situation and that's when Pat Narduzzi stepped up to the plate and called for a fake punt with four and a half minutes left.
I knew something was off right away when Jordan Whitehead split out to the left of the play. They have been talking about getting him the ball and that stuck out to me. Whether Syracuse saw that or not, it worked, because Pitt faked the punt the other way. Ryan Winslow, who has stepped up himself lately, scrambled towards the right side and it appeared the play gave him the option to run or throw. When the defender came off of linebacker Matt Galambos, he made his decision, floating a 12-yard pass to #47 for the conversation and first down.
The Panthers converted and never looked back. Not only did they not look back, but Syracuse never got the ball back. Running backs Chris James and Quadree Ollison led the team down the field and pushed Pitt to a Chris Blewitt 25-yard field goal as time ticked off the clock for the Panthers' sixth victory of the season.