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Pitt-Virginia Panther of the Game: James Conner

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The Pitt running back pulled double duty to take home this week’s award

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Jordan Whitehead’s pick-6 and his four tackles and Quadree Henderson’s electrifying plays, James Conner takes home the Panther of the Game award this week in Pitt’s 45-31 win over Virginia.

You can make an argument for a couple of other players, as mentioned above, along with another strong game from last week’s co-winner: Tyrique Jarrett. However, Conner’s statistics, along with coming up big, when it mattered most give him the award.

Conner finished yesterday with 20 rushes for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in two catches for 28 yards on the receiving end. And in case you missed it, he also played defensive end and put some pressure on Kurt Benkert on an important late drive for Virginia, nearly picking up a sack in the process.

Ho-hum...just another day for number 24. Do you want more? OK, how about the clutch plays Conner put on the field yesterday. Pitt went three-and-out right off the bat when not using Conner, but on their second possession, with Pitt trailing 7-0 and facing 2nd and 10, big James completely ran over two Virginia defenders in route to a 16-yard run. This seemed to get the offense going. Add to that two 3rd-and-2 conversions and one 4th-and-one run that resulted in a first down and it seemed that every time the Panthers needed a big play, James Conner provided it.

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