The Pitt Panthers have had an emotional season. From James Conner’s return from Hodgkin’s lymphoma to suffering close losses against Oklahoma State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, Pitt has had a season full of highs and lows.
Well, Saturday was another high. The Panthers (6-4) stunned then-No. 2 Clemson, 43-42, in Death Valley, where Dabo Swinney hadn’t lost since October 2013.
“You can’t put into words,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I was just excited for our football team. We’ve been through a few heartbreaking this season and you’ve got these 115 kids that you coach and see every day, and you’re just happy for them. They’re the guys who work their tails off to get wins, and when you fall short a couple times and then come up big against the No. 2 team in the country – a team that hadn’t lost at home in two years, 21-game home winning streak – those are things and memories that our kids will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Pitt trailed 42-34 through three quarters but held Clemson scoreless in the final frame. The aforementioned Conner, who finished with 189 total yards, reeled off a 20-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes remaining to pull Pitt to within 42-40, while kicker Chris Blewitt nailed the game-winning 48-yard field goal with six seconds to go.
It was the Panthers’ first lead of the second half.
Narduzzi couldn’t have been in happier. Neither could the city of Pittsburgh, which, despite having storied professional franchises such as the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins, certainly knows how to rally behind the local college team.
“Being that I’ve been here almost two years in December, I’m just still trying to figure it out,” said Narduzzi, who spent the previous eight years on Mark Dantonio’s staff at Michigan State. We’ve had good vibes around here in Pittsburgh. I don’t know what it was like in the past, but we’re just trying to build it day-by-day, trying to make things happen. I hope the Pitt Nation, Panther Nation, gets excited here, and I hope they’ll continue to not only back us but make it even bigger.”
Pitt hosts Duke (4-6) this Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.