Pitt Can’t Contain Northwestern’s Ground Game in Pinstripe Bowl Loss

NEW YORK (EYT) – Pitt’s run defense was one of the best in the country during the regular season.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Unfortunately, that didn’t carry over into the Panthers Pinstripe Bowl game with Northwestern.

The Wildcats, behind Justin Jackson, ran wild in a 31-24 win over Pitt keeping the No. 22 Panthers from the nine-win season they so coveted.

Jackson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns in giving Northwestern (7-6) just it’s third-ever bowl win.

His two first-half touchdown runs helped the Wildcats to a 14-10 halftime lead, and his 40-yard run midway through the third quarter but Northwestern ahead 21-17 after Pitt had scored on its opening drive of the second half thanks to a long run by Quadree Henderson that set up a 5-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Nathan Peterman.

Pitt (8-5), which lost both running back James Conner and Peterman, to injuries in the game, retook the lead, 24-21, on a 6-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ben DiNucci to George Aston, early in the fourth quarter.

Northwestern then went to the air to reclaim the advantage for good with Clayton Thorson hitting Garrett Dickerson from 21 yards out with 8:23 to play. The Wildcats then tacked on a field goal after a DiNucci interception, one of two picks thrown in the fourth quarter by the red-shirt freshman.

Peterman was 13 of 18 for 253 yards, a touchdown and an interception before going out with an injury late in the third quarter. Henderson ran for a team-high 76 yards with Conner, who was hurt late in the first half, rushing for 32 yards.

Pitt had ample opportunities early to put the game away but struggled in the red zone including turning the ball over on downs at the 1-yard line up 3-0 only to watch Northwestern drive 99 yards for its first touchdown.

Even late in the game, the Panthers had a chance to tie or take the lead but tight end Scott Orndoff couldn’t hold on to a pass from DiNucci in the end zone with Pitt down seven, and Jared McGee picked off DiNucci’s fourth-down pass.

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