Bronx, NY —The Pittsburgh and Syracuse met in Yankees Stadium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first college game played in this iconic venue in the Bronx which was played on Oct. 20, 1923, five days after the Yankees won their first World Series title.
The Panthers has won 18 of the past 21 games in the series. As head coach Pat Narduzzi is 7-1 against Syracuse (his lone defeat occurring in the Dome, 27-24, in 2017). But couldn’t slow down Dan Villari and the Cuse’s running game.
Villari ran for a career-high 154 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown on a direct snap in the fourth quarter, DB Jayden Bellamy picked off Christian Veilleux’s pass when Daejon Reynolds overran the route, he stepped in for the interception and went 23-yards untouched as he ran down the right sideline.
A Long Island native, Villari had his best game in front of about 75 friends and family after initially entering Syracuse as a backup quarterback following his transfer from Michigan. He changed from quarterback to tight end before last season and overcame some injuries that limited his practice time until September.
“We wanted to go old school, to go back to 100 years to a 3-0 win, Syracuse versus Pitt in the old Yankee Stadium and see if we could stir up the ghosts,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said.
With 11:11 remaining near midfield in the third, Bellamy recovered a fumble by Pitt quarterback Veilleux and that set up Garrett Shrader’s 21-yard TD run that gave Syracuse a 14-13 lead.
Pitt went into the break with a 13-7 lead after Sauls booted his second field goal — a 33-yarder where the ball cleared the uprights and landed in front of the unused Legends Seats behind where home plate would normally be for Yankee games. But two costly turnovers in the second half killed the Panthers momentum.
LeQuint Allen gained 102 yards on a career-high 28 attempts and Shrader ran 14 times for 96 yards as SU gained 382 of their 399 yards on the ground. The Orange held the ball for over 37 minutes and nearly gained 400 yards on the ground for the first time since 1994.
Shrader threw two passes, completing one for a 5-yard touchdown to Maximillan Meng less than five minutes into the game.
Veilleux completed 12 of 22 passes for 156 yards before being replaced by Nate Yarnell Besides the pick, Veilleux also lost two fumbles.
Bellamy, who played in his sixth career game after transferring from Notre Dame, factored in the first two of Syracuse’s three TDs in the second half.
“It was just a cover-two call and I was just doing my assignment,” said Bellamy, whose interception came in front of family and friends from his native New Jersey. “The opportunity came so I took it and ran with it.”
Shrader opened the game with a 16-yard scramble and Syracuse went up less than five minutes in when Mang was wide open for a diving grab.
Shrader returned from an undisclosed injury that kept him out of last week’s 17-10 loss to Boston College but spent virtually the entire game running the ball or handing it off to Villari or Allen. He also lined up as a wideout a few times and did a backflip before the snap on one play in the first half.
After Villari scored Syracuse was up 28-13 lead, he posed for fans sitting in the seats above the visiting bullpen.
Pittsburgh (2-8, 1-5) dropped its fourth straight contest. Since their 38-31 win over Louisville on Oct. 14, the Panthers have been outscored 131-44.
“Obviously, that was really disappointing,” Narduzzi said after the loss. “We were right there in the first half. We were in the game. It was a disappointing second half. We didn’t finish. That starts with me. I take full responsibility. It’s my job to get the 74 guys we bring on the road all ready to go.”
From the opening of the game, it looked as though the Panthers were in for a rough afternoon, allowing the Orange (5-6, 1-5) to march 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, which was capped off with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Shrader to Max Mang.
While Pitt’s offense continued its struggles, it moved the ball in the first quarter thanks to a big play from the defense when Dayon Hayes forced a fumble that was recovered by David Green in Syracuse territory. The turnover resulted in the Panthers’ first points of the afternoon, a 35-yard field goal by Ben Sauls. But that would be it for the Panthers this afternoon.
Pittsburgh: Nov. 16 vs. Boston College
Syracuse: Nov. 18 at Georgia Tech