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Pitt’s slide continues following controversial loss to Wake Forest

Pitt seemed to be the better team in its matchup vs. Wake Forest at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers were ahead for most of the first half after a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Veilleux to receiver Kenny Johnson midway through the first quarter. Unfortunately, despite looking poised to extend their lead, the men decked in slick white road uniforms could never pull away from the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest tied the score at seven right before halftime on an 18-yard gash by running back Demond Claiborne with 1:32 left in the second quarter.

The contest remained a tight defensive battle for most of the second half, and Pitt’s defense struck the first big blow when it intercepted Wake Forest quarterback Santino Marucci late in the third quarter. The Panthers then marched 43 yards on seven plays and took a 10-7 lead on a 41-yard field goal by kicker Ben Sauls with 13:03 remaining in regulation.

The score would remain that way until Claiborne struck again with a 42-yard touchdown run to make it 14-10 with 3:02 left in the fourth quarter.

But Pitt came right back and regained the lead on a remarkable throw from Veilleux, who was under great pressure, to receiver Bub Means, who pulled in a 22-yard touchdown strike with 1:30 remaining.

The Panthers appeared to have the game in the bag when Marucci was picked off with 1:03 left in the game.

But Pitt needed to pick up at least one more first down to burn the rest of the Demon Deacon’s time outs, and Veilleux seemed to pick up the clinching conversion when he scampered past the marker before sliding to the turf. However, the officials indicated that Veilleux started his slide a yard short of the marker and never even reviewed the play.

Pitt’s defense, one that had been dominant until the fourth quarter, finally broke for good when Marucci connected with Cameron Hite for a 15-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds left.

It was one of the more heartbreaking losses in recent memory for a Panthers team that was looking to salvage its season after a 1-4 start.

Veilleux completed 28 of 45 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. As for the performance of the team as a whole? It may have had a better result, if not for 13 penalties committed for 101 yards.

That may explain how Pitt won the battle in yardage, time of possession and turnovers, yet, still lost at the end.

Now, at 2-5, the Panthers bowl chances are officially on life-support as they prepare to travel to South Bend next Saturday afternoon for a date with Notre Dame.


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