PITTSBURGH -- Pitt scored touchdowns on six of its first eight possessions and defeated New Mexico 49-27 in a non-conference game Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.
The Panthers (1-1, 0-1 ACC), who return to ACC play Saturday at Duke, got five touchdowns from their talented freshman class and a dominant performance from their defense in the first half. Pitt held New Mexico (1-2) to just 59 total yards at halftime, including five yards rushing. Senior tailback Kasey Carrier, who entered the game with an NCAA-best 345 yards rushing, had just 22 yards on seven carries against the Panthers.
Pitt ran and threw the ball with equal success against New Mexico. Junior Isaac Bennett had 14 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman James Conner added 119 yards and two scores on 12 carries with a 38-yard burst around right end for the touchdown. Freshman Tyler Boyd had two carries for 39 yards with a 33-yard touchdown run and also had five catches for 127 yards with a 51-yarder early in the game and a spectacular 34-yard scoring catch as time ran out in the first half.
Boyd also ran a reverse for a 33-yard touchdown run.
The other freshman who scored a touchdown for Pitt was tight end Scott Orndoff. He came off the line and was open in the end zone for a four-yard scoring pass from quarterback Tom Savage. Savage was 13 of 17 for 236 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Pitt couldn't make enough plays to stay with the Seminoles in its 41-13 loss in the ACC opener Sept. 2, but the Panthers punted just twice against New Mexico and had seven plays go for 20 or more yards. Savage overcame an early interception to find Boyd running free in the New Mexico secondary for a 51-yard reception. Three plays later, Savage hit Orndoff in the end zone to give Pitt a lead it never relinquished.
A 28-yard pass to fifth-year senior wide out Devin Street keyed Pitt's third scoring drive and Conner capped it with a 20-yard run. Street finished with five catches for 80 yards. On the next drive, an 18-yard pass to Street set up Conner again who finished with a 38-yard touchdown run.
Savage's two interceptions and two Pitt fumbles kept the Panthers from a premier performance, but it was enough to easily handle New Mexico.
The Lobos play host to UNLV in a Mountain West matchup Saturday night.