PITTSBURGH (AP)—Dion Lewis scored three touchdowns by halftime while running for 129 yards in his first college start, and Pittsburgh showed off a balanced offense while cruising to a season-opening 38-3 victory over Youngstown State on Saturday.
Pitt made certain there was no repeat of last season’s 27-17 opening day loss to Bowling Green that ranks among the biggest upsets in school history, taking a 21-3 lead at halftime. Not that the opponent was as good—Youngstown State lost eight of its first 10 while going 4-8 last season and hasn’t scored a touchdown in its last five games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
|IMPRESSIVE START—Freshman running back Dion Lewis rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for another touchdown in the Pitt’s 38-3 win over Youngstown State.
One of Pitt’s unanswered questions going into the season was whether it could quickly replace running back LeSean McCoy, who left for the NFL after rushing for 2,816 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns in two seasons. Only former Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett was as productive at Pitt during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
For at least one game, Lewis—a freshman who was playing prep school football in New Jersey a year ago—was a more than adequate replacement. He scored on a 16-yard run on his fifth college carry, then set up his own 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter with gains of 28 and 25 yards on successive carries against a Penguins defense overmatched by Pitt’s size and speed.
Later in the quarter, Lewis scored on a 3-yard swing pass from Stull. Lewis sat out most of the second half, carrying five times for minus-3 yards after having 15 carries for 132 yards at halftime.
Stull, who slumped badly during the second half of last season after getting a concussion against Rutgers, was booed on his first incompletion and had only 44 yards passing at halftime but finished 11 of 16 for 123 yards and an interception.
Tino Sunseri, a redshirt freshman who pushed Stull for the starting job during preseason camp, found Jonathan Baldwin on a 42-yard completion immediately after replacing Stull in the third quarter and later hooked up with Aundre Wright on a 6-yard scoring pass play. Sunseri was 5 of 8 for 80 yards as the Panthers outgained the Penguins 390-159.
Youngstown State generated little offense except for Stephen Blose’s 48-yard field goal in the second quarter. Brandon Summers was 11 of 22 for 113 yards and two interceptions while Donald Jones, who had five TD catches in his final four games last season, was held to four catches for 34 yards.
The game was only the second between schools located about 60 miles apart. The Panthers beat the Penguins 41-0 in a 2005 opener.