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Pitt opens strong, but sputters late

©Associated Press
September 1, 2002

PITTSBURGH -- Rod Rutherford made an uneven debut as Pittsburgh's quarterback, throwing two touchdowns before halftime but throwing three interceptions in an unimpressive 27-14 victory over Ohio on Saturday night.

The Panthers -- who won six straight to end last season -- opened a 20-0 lead at halftime, then heard sporadic boos from the 41,579 as their offense bogged down in the second half. Pittsburgh is 18-0 against the Mid-American Conference, but the Panthers often looked confused against an Ohio team coming off a 1-10 season.

Chad Brinker, the Ohio senior tailback whose 2001 season was cut short by a brain operation, carried 24 times for 119 yards and a 6-yard touchdown in his seventh career 100-yard game.

Despite outgaining Pitt 283-193 behind Brinker's effective running, the Bobcats did not have the depth to compete with Pitt, which is coming off consecutive bowl seasons for the first time since the 1980s. Six turnovers, five on interceptions, didn't help.

Rutherford, known more as a runner than a thrower when he was a Pennsylvania high school player of the year, connected with Lamar Slade on a 26-yard scoring pass on Pitt's first possession.

Ohio's Dontrell Jackson was intercepted four times, one more than he was last season in 83 attempts. Fred Ray replaced Jackson in the fourth and scrambled 18 yards for a touchdown with 8:02 left, cutting Pitt's lead to 27-14.

W. VIRGINIA 56, CHATTANOOGA 7: Rasheed Marshall threw three touchdowns in his first start for visiting West Virginia. Marshall, who saw limited action last season as a freshman, was 14 of 22 for 163 yards and led scoring drives on the first three possessions.

Avon Cobourne led an equally effective running attack, with 20 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. It was his 19th 100-yard rushing game, moving him to third on West Virginia's career yardage list.

Tennessee-Chattanooga quarterback Ryan McCann, a left-handed transfer from UCLA, had no success throwing more than 10 yards. He left 12-of-23 for 55 yards and three interceptions. Justin Barnes was 6-of-6 for 43 yards.

BC 24, UCONN 16: Brian St. Pierre threw a pair of second-half touchdowns and host Boston College overcame a 13-point deficit. It was the second meeting since 1928 for the longtime basketball rivals.

Boston College fumbled a punt, had two passes intercepted and rushed for 78 yards through the first three quarters. The Huskies, 5-17 in two years as a Division I school and a five-touchdown underdog, led 16-10 at halftime.

BC's Derrick Knight, who lost a three-way battle for the starting job to transfer Horace Dodd, finished with 15 carries for 105 yards, 76 in the second half.

St. Pierre finished 19-of-33 for 239 yards and two interceptions. Dan Orlovsky completed 24-of-37 for 203 yards with two interceptions for UConn.

VILLANOVA 37, RUTGERS 19: Brett Gordon passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns and visiting Villanova got its first win over a Division I-A team since restoring football in 1985.

Gordon threw a game-clinching 6-yard touchdown to Phil DiGiacomo after leading an 80-yard fourth-quarter march, and connected with Brian White on a 45-yard touchdown and Shaz Brown on a 50-yarder on a flea flicker.

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