Courtesy of Pittsburgh Athletics
PITTSBURGH â€” The Pitt football team concluded spring drills on Saturday with the annual Blue-Gold Game at Heinz Field. Using a modified scoring system, the Blue (defense) defeated the Gold (offense), 62-24.
â€œWe needed to go out and see specific players in live situations to see how they would respond,â€ Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. â€œThis is what spring football is all about.â€
Sophomore Dion Lewis (Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy [N.Y.]) led the way for Pittâ€™s tailbacks, picking up 74 yards on five carries. Lewisâ€™ performance was highlighted by a 52-yard dash down the left sideline. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) was 9-of-17 passing for 82 yards and added a nine-yard touchdown run, while junior receiver Jon Baldwin (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) pulled in four catches for 37 yards. Twelve different players had at least one reception on the afternoon.
On the defensive side, redshirt senior defensive end Nate Nix (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) paced the Panthers with six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. Redshirt junior linebacker Tristan Roberts (Perkasie, Pa./Pennridge) also added six tackles, as did redshirt sophomore lineman Shayne Hale (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway). Redshirt freshman safety Kolby Gray (Houston, Texas/Cypress Falls) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Manny Williams (Clairton, Pa./Clairton) each pulled in an interception.
â€œDefensively, it was a solid performance,â€ Wannstedt said. â€œThe defensive linemen â€” (Tyler) Tkach, Nix and Hale â€” all fulfilled the backup roles that they needed to. They really came through and showed up today. The linebackers played really well.â€
Senior kicker Dan Hutchins (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Township) knocked in field goals from 47 and 40 yards. Redshirt sophomore kicker Kevin Harper (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) connected on a 45-yard attempt in the third quarter.
Prior to the game, Wannstedt announced the winners of the Ed Conway Award, which is annually presented to the most improved players in the spring from each side of the ball. The 2010 winners were senior receiver Greg Cross (Brunswick, Ga./Glynn/Ft. Scott CC) and junior corner Antwuan Reed (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown).
â€œGreg and Antwuan both played well today,â€ Wannstedt said. â€œEach of them has given us something day after day on a consistent basis. They always did little things on top of the bigger things to make the necessary improvements and get better.â€
The Panthers return 13 starters and 50 letterwinners from last seasonâ€™s 10-3 squad that finished with a No. 15 ranking in the final polls.
Pitt opens its season with a Sept. 2 matchup on the road with Utah and will begin its home schedule against New Hampshire Sept. 11 at Heinz Field.