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Sophomore's huge day rescues Pitt

Pitt’s Ray Graham breaks away from the pack on his way to a 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth.

Associated Press

Pitt’s Ray Graham breaks away from the pack on his way to a 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth.

PITTSBURGH — Ray Graham ran for 277 yards and three touchdowns in his first start and Pittsburgh shook off three sluggish quarters to beat Florida International 44-17 Saturday.

The sophomore running back's third consecutive 100-yard game — his first two were off the bench — represented the second-highest rushing total in Pitt history. Only Tony Dorsett gained more, 303 against Notre Dame in 1975, the season before he won the Heisman Trophy.

Panthers coach Dave Wann­stedt planned to give him a chance to break the record. But Pitt got the ball at the FIU 16 after a fumble recovery, and running back Chris Burns later scored its fourth touchdown of the fourth quarter.

"I'm honored just being mentioned with Tony Dorsett," said Graham, who scored on runs of 79, 34 and 19 yards and had 117 yards in the fourth quarter alone. "I would have liked to have broken the record. After (my last) touchdown, they were telling me I was on pace."

Pitt needed every yard Graham gained against an opponent whose signature victory to date since starting football in 2002 was against Toledo in 2008.

The Panthers led only 13-10 at halftime and 16-10 after three quarters before scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter against a program that is 14-72 all time. Graham scored two of them.

FIU managed to keep it close, answering Tino Sunseri's 9-yard touchdown pass to fullback Henry Hynoski early in the fourth quarter with Darriet Perry's second touchdown run.

But the Golden Panthers had no answer for Graham, who replaced injured second-team All-American Dion Lewis (shoulder).

"The way we run the ball, we could use four tailbacks," Wannstedt said. "We're so fortunate Dion stayed healthy last season. We'll use 'em both."

After Perry's second touchdown made it 23-17 with 12:07 left, Graham kept Pitt's next possession going by carrying three tacklers an extra 2 yards to gain a first down on a 15-yard run on third and 13.

On the next play, he burst through the left side of the line for a 79-yard score.

Tulane 17, Rutgers 14: Joe Kemp took a shotgun snap, threw a lateral to receiver D.J. Banks then caught Banks' pass for a 24-yard touchdown that helped the Green Wave pull off the upset. The play, which made it 17-10, was appropriately called "Rutgers pass," and it was added to the playbook on Sunday. "It always works in practice," said Kemp, whose team ended a six-game road skid. "But to come out here and do it in front of 50,000 people, wow." Rutgers starting quarterback Tom Savage, who entered with bruised ribs, sustained an undisclosed injury late in the first half and didn't return. The Scarlet Knights were called for nine penalties, including holdings that nullified a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a first-down play on their final drive. "We beat ourselves," offensive tackle Art Forst said. "We didn't execute. We had too many penalties. So that's when you shake your head and just feel sick, disgusted."

UConn 40, Vandy 21: Jordan Todman, who sat out last week with an injured left elbow, ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the host Huskies. Connecticut gave the Big East just its second win against a team from a BCS conference (West Virginia over Maryland). "Any time you can beat another BCS conference, it's important," coach Randy Edsall said. "It's not only important for us, but it's important for our league, for the Big East. At least we won't get hammered on ESPN." Tied at 21 at halftime, the Huskies outscored the Commodores 19-0 in the second half. "UConn made some good adjustments," Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith said. "I had a couple of poor throws, and the rest was history. They just came out there and hit us in the mouth on both sides of the ball. They dominated the entire second half."

Louisville 34, Ark. St. 24: Chris Philpott hit a 46-yard field goal with 3:54 remaining for the visiting Cardinals. Louisville built a 31-7 halftime lead before the Red Wolves closed to within 31-24 after Bobby Zalud hit a 35-yard field goal with 8:08 left. Josh Bellamy and Adam Froman connected on a pair of touchdown passes, and Louisville's Bilal Powell scored two TDs, one of them a 47-yard run on a fake punt. Powell finished with 157 yards on 21 carries.

Pitt 44

FIU 17

Sophomore's huge day rescues Pitt 10/02/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 3, 2010 12:04am]
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