PITTSBURGH (AP) — With talented freshmen such as Tyler Boyd leading the way, the time is now for the Pitt football team.
Boyd led the Panthers with 195 total yards and two touchdowns in a 49-27 victory against New Mexico in a non-conference game Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.
"He was good," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said when asked about Boyd. "He was fun to watch. I thought he did some really good things. I've learned not to be surprised by Tyler. I think he can still be better. I certainly appreciate the way he approaches the game and competes and plays. He's fun to be around."
Pitt (1-1, 0-1 ACC), which returns to ACC play Saturday at Duke, actually got five touchdowns from its talented freshman class and a dominant performance from its defense in the first half. The Panthers 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.
Fifth-year senior strong safety Jason Hendricks and redshirt junior weak-side linebacker Todd Thomas led Pitt's defense with 10 tackles and two stops behind the line each, but the back seven keyed off of senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald's powerful performance up front. Donald had five solo tackles, two sacks (21.5 in his career) and four total stops behind the line. But it seemed like he was in the backfield a lot more than that.
"Aaron Donald, he's a horse," Thomas said. "Ty Ezell, Dave Durham, Ejuan Price, Bryan Murphy, Darryl Render, those guys right there really played well today. If everybody does what they're supposed to do, the sky's the limit for this defense.
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. Boyd had two carries for 39 yards with a 33-yard touchdown run and also had six catches for 134 yards with a 51-yarder early in the game and a spectacular 34-yard scoring catch as time ran out in the first half.