Had the APSU football team won at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Panthers, the Governors could have pulled off their first win against an FBS school since 1987.
Unfortunately for the Governors, the final score was far from a chance at making history. The Panthers ran away with their season opening game, defeating Austin Peay with a final score of 55-0.
“My hat is off to Pittsburgh and what coach [Pat] Narduzzi is building there,” head coach Marquase Lovings said. “I’m proud of our kids’ effort, more so in the second half…We’ve got to do better, obviously. We’ve got to do better, we will do better and we’ve got an even better opponent next week in Cincinnati. What that looks like from a competitive standpoint, we’ve got to really challenge our kids and our coaches moving forward.”
Despite having minimal attendance at the game and being without seven players for the contest, Pitt managed to score early and often against the Govs’ defense.
After quickly finding themselves down 14-0, the Governors were gifted a chance in the red zone following a 57-yard pass from quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall to Baniko Harley. The Governors were unable to capitalize and eventually missed on a 35-yard field goal attempt. Oatsvall finished the evening completing 38% of his throws with 96 yards and an interception.
Under quarterback Kenny Pickett, the Panthers scored on their first six drives of the game. Pickett would not return to the field in the second half after securing a 42-0 lead at the break.
The Govs’ offense struggled mightily throughout the contest, accumulating 139 yards as opposed to the 456 gained by Pitt. Although the scoreboard reflects a shut out loss for the Governors, Lovings was appreciative of his team’s effort in an abbreviated third and fourth quarter.
“That’s just in our DNA, it really is,” Lovings added on the team’s competitive spirit. “We have a compete drill every single day in practice. Competition is real within our program. I’m glad the kids have resiliency, I’m glad they have character to keep fighting and that’s the type of person I am. While I don’t want to be a loser, I always want to fight and I want to keep fighting until that whistle blows or whatnot. Things did not go our way tonight, but I think our kids’ effort in the second half was plausible. We’ll go back and watch the tape and see who gave extraordinary effort, but that’s a part of our culture that we’re building and continuing to build every day. Compete in everything you do, core value number five.”
APSU falls to 0-2 following the defeat and hopes to end out the fall season strong at Nippert Stadium against a nationally ranked Cincinnati Bearcats squad.
“I’ve got to concentrate on watching the film tonight,” Lovings said on the Governors likelihood of an upset. “I’ve got to concentrate on Sunday practice, I’ve got to concentrate on what our goal line package is going to be. I’ve got to concentrate on how our scout team moves from drill to drill. I’m focused on today, watching the tape today, learning from it and then focusing on Sunday, focusing on Cincinnati with goal line and watching some of their special teams from a kickoff standpoint, because that’s what we’ll work on today. From a game plan standpoint, I’m just going to keep it very small before I focus on the big scheme. We’re going to take it bit by bit, focus on that first and focus on ourselves and our actions first.”