Pittsburgh 45, SW Louisiana 13
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Pete Gonzalez, finally winning the Pittsburgh quarterback’s job as a fifth-year senior, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Panthers beat Southwestern Louisiana 45-13 on Saturday in Walt Harris’ coaching debut.
Harris, formerly the quarterbacks coach at Ohio State and with the New York Jets, had a more successful opener with the Panthers than he did in his first game as a head coach at Pacific in 1989 _ a loss at Pittsburgh.
The Panthers led only 17-13 after a blocked punt and a fumble recovery led to Southwestern Louisiana scores, but outscored the Ragin’ Cajuns 28-0 in the second half after Gonzalez hit Jake Hoffart for 14 yards and scored on a 16-yard bootleg.
Gonzalez also set up the first of his two TD passes to Terry Murphy with a 31-yard run. Murphy scored the Panthers’ first two touchdowns in a span of 5:20 in the second quarter on catches of 10 and 24 yards.
Gonzalez was 16-of-30 for 212 yards and no interceptions and carried eight times for 73 yards.
To celebrate his first victory at Pittsburgh, Harris gathered his players in a group facing the school band and they spent several minutes smiling and waving in a salute to the remaining fans the crowd of 34,802.
Gonzalez, who beat out last year’s starter, Matt Lytle, because his scrambling ability makes him better suited for Harris’ newly installed West Coast offense, figured in every Pittsburgh touchdown except for fourth-quarter TD runs by Dwayne Schulters and freshman Kevan Barlow.
A former Miami high school star, Gonzalez made four spot starts _ two each in 1995 and 1996 _ before beating out Lytle late in summer camp. With Pittsburgh up 14-3, Lytle came on for the Panthers’ initial series of the second quarter, but Barlow fumbled on his first college carry and Lytle didn’t return until Pittsburgh led by 25 points.
The Ragin’ Cajuns converted the Barlow fumble into backup quarterback Barton Folse’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Mark Buford _ the first passing attempt of Folse’s career. Folse came on after starter Brian Soignier, who finished 0-for-8, couldn’t move the Cajuns’ offense.
But the Ragin’ Cajuns did not seriously threaten in the second half as the Panthers’ defensive backs blanketed Brandon Stokley, the son of Cajuns coach Nelson Stokley and one of the nation’s top receivers last season.
Stokley, a junior who averaged nearly 108 receiving yards per game last season, made five catches for 72 yards to break the school career receiving yardage record barely halfway through his career. But Stokley was not a factor, failing to make a catch until nearly midway through the second quarter.