Pittsburgh spent 45 minutes knocking around Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees.
The sophomore needed less than five minutes to knock out the host Panthers.
Rees shrugged off a miserable start to hit tight end Tyler Eifert on a 6-yard touchdown pass with less than 7 minutes to go and lift Notre Dame to a 15-12 win on Saturday. The score and subsequent two-point conversion – also to Eifert – capped 4:40 of perfection from Rees as the Irish (2-2) won their second straight.
Rees went 8 for 8 on the winning drive, remaining patient even as the Panthers (2-2) bottled up Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.
Did Rees want to go deep to his favorite target? Sure. Yet he reined in his inner swashbuckler and ignored the beating he took over the first three quarters to play with the kind of poise that has earned him the starting job and his teammates’ respect.
“You’ve just got to make the right decisions,” Rees said. “We did some good things getting the ball underneath and just kind of chipping away at their defense.”
Rees finished 24 of 41 for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception and running back Jonas Gray scored on a 79-yard touchdown run for Notre Dame, which overcame eight penalties and two costly turnovers.
It wasn’t pretty. Then again, it beats the alternative for a team that already has a couple of aesthetically pleasing losses – from a statistical standpoint anyway – under its belt.
“Yeah, there’s some frustration when you’re not putting points on the board,” Eifert said. “But at the same time you’ve got to keep grinding … our defense stepped up big and our offense scored just enough points.”
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri threw for 165 yards and a score but was sacked twice on his final drive to snuff out a late rally.
Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 6: Matt McGloin threw for three touchdowns and the Nittnay Lions (3-1) welcomed coach Joe Paterno back to the sideline with a win over the Eagles (2-2) at State College, Pa.
It surely pleased the 84-year-old Paterno, who paced the sideline in the first half for the first time this season before returning to the press box after halftime with his team up comfortably. The Hall of Famer spent the first three games entirely upstairs while recovering from injuries suffered from an accidental collision in practice Aug. 7.
Temple 38, Maryland 7: Bernard Pierce set a school record with five rushing touchdowns, and the Owls (3-1) built a 31-point halftime lead in a rout of the Terrapins (1-2) at College Park, Md.
Ball State 48, Army 21: Keith Wenning threw for a career-high 324 yards and tied a career high with three touchdown passes, leading the Cardinals (3-1) past the Cadets (1-3) at Muncie, Ind.
Rutgers 38, Ohio 26: Mohamed Sanu had a record-setting 16 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights (2-1) knocked the error-prone Bobcats (3-1) from the unbeaten ranks at Piscataway, N.J. Tyler Tettleton threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns for the Bobcats, who ruined their best start since 1976 with four turnovers. At the end of the third quarter, a fan in the stands suffered an apparent heart attack and was given CPR behind the Ohio bench.