Scores

Final

Pittsburgh 37

(3-1, 1-1 away)

Texas A&M 26

(2-2, 2-1 home)

3:30 PM ET, September 27, 2003

Kyle Field, COLLEGE STATION, TX

1 2 3 4 T
PITT 9 0 21 737
TA&M 0 13 0 1326

Fitzgerald scores 3 TDs in win

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- There was a time when a trip to Texas A&M was the last thing a team needed coming off a discouraging loss. It was the perfect remedy for Pittsburgh (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP).

Rod Rutherford threw a career-high five touchdown passes with help from his acrobatic receivers -- especially Larry Fitzgerald, who caught three -- in a 37-26 victory over the Aggies on Saturday.

"We had a very difficult loss to deal with last week," Pitt coach Walt Harris said of the upset at Toledo that dropped the Panthers eight spots in the Top 25. "A lot of people jumped off the bandwagon, but those people don't matter."

Rutherford was 14-of-28 for 283 yards and an interception for Pitt (3-1), and Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 135 yards. The Panthers did most of their damage after a lackluster first half that ended with the Aggies (2-2) leading 13-9.

Pitt went up in the third quarter on Princell Brockenbrough's 20-yard touchdown catch. He made a leaping grab in the end zone and gingerly dragged his toes as he flew out of bounds.

Brockenbrough had three catches for 100 yards.

"I call him 'clutch' because he's always making a big play," said Fitzgerald, who added that the victory will allow the Panthers to put last week's 35-31 loss to Toledo behind them.

Texas A&M came right back after Brockenbrough's TD, but Todd Pegram missed a 33-yard field-goal try.

The Panthers kept rolling, and Fitzgerald punctuated the next drive with a 5-yard TD catch.

Fullback Lousaka Polite made it 30-13 late in the third quarter, catching a 6-yard pass from Rutherford -- who was not made available for postgame interviews -- after the Panthers got the ball when A&M returner Terrence Thomas muffed a punt.

A&M's Courtney Lewis scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but Rutherford countered with a 49-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald, who made an over-the-shoulder catch near the goal line amid a crowd of Aggies. It was Fitzgerald's 18th TD catch in his last 10 games.

"That catch is tough when there's nobody around you, let alone three guys around you," Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said.

He added that Fitzgerald "may be as good a receiver as I've ever seen."

Franchione, in his first season of rebuilding the once-powerful A&M program, pulled quarterback Reggie McNeal after he was shaken up in the fourth quarter. Dustin Long took over, though Franchione said that McNeal could have returned to the game and that he will study the game film before naming a starter next week at Texas Tech.

"I'd say Reggie would probably start right now," Franchione said.

Pitt struck first after McNeal fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 play at the Pitt 8. The Panthers moved back down the field, and five plays later, Fitzgerald outjumped two Aggies for a 34-yard TD catch midway into the first quarter.

David Abdul's extra-point attempt hit the right upright, but he made a 45-yard field goal a few minutes later to make it 9-0.

The A&M offense got rolling late in the quarter, with McNeal leading a 10-play drive that ended with soft lob to Jamaar Taylor in the left side of the end zone. Taylor finished with six catches for 110 yards.

The Panthers appeared ready to retake the lead when Brockenbrough caught a short pass on the left side, broke free from a Sean Weston tackle and sprinted 67 yards down the left sideline with Bryant Singleton in pursuit.

Singleton made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 8. On the next play, Rutherford's pass to Fitzgerald in the end zone was picked off by Byron Jones.

The Aggies drove to the Pitt 14 and, on third-and-1, appeared to have a first down and maybe a touchdown on Derek Farmer's run when the referees blew the play dead on a flag thrown by line judge Dennis Guerra.

After a brief officials' conference, referee Dennis Hennigan waived off the foul, but the Aggies were unable to move the chains and settled for a 31-yard field goal for a 10-9 lead midway into the second quarter.

Franchione said the crew explained the ball was dead because Hennigan had not whistled the ball ready for play. Franchione called it an "officiating administrative" error.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PITT
TA&M
1st Downs2322
Total Yards478544
Passing283317
Rushing195227
Penalties5-308-68
3rd Down Conversions6-137-17
4th Down Conversions0-02-3
Turnovers14
Possession31:0128:59

Passing Leaders

PittsburghC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
Rutherfo...14/2828310.151-
Texas A&MC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
McNeal12/222159.810-
Long9/171026.011-

Rushing Leaders

PittsburghCARYDSAVGTDLG
Walker20874.4019
Polite9384.208
Texas A&MCARYDSAVGTDLG
Lewis161056.6136
McNeal11524.7020

Receiving Leaders

PittsburghRECYDSAVGTDLG
Fitzgerald713519.3349
Brockenb...310033.3167
Texas A&MRECYDSAVGTDLG
Taylor611018.3136
Lewis47518.8033

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPITTTA&M
TD8:13LARRY FITZGERALD 34 YD PASS FROM ROD RUTHERFORD (MISSED KICK)
Drive info: 5 plays, 93 yards.
60
FG4:12DAVID ABDUL 45 YD FG
Drive info: 4 plays, 0 yards.
90
SECOND QUARTERPITTTA&M
TD14:14JAMAAR TAYLOR 18 YD PASS FROM REGGIE MCNEAL (TODD PEGRAM KICK)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
97
FG8:59TODD PEGRAM 31 YD FG
Drive info: 7 plays, 70 yards.
910
FG3:23TODD PEGRAM 30 YD FG
Drive info: 9 plays, 44 yards.
913
THIRD QUARTERPITTTA&M
TD12:11PRINCELL BROCKENBROUGH 20 YD PASS FROM ROD RUTHERFORD (DAVID ABDUL KICK)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
1613
TD4:00LARRY FITZGERALD 5 YD PASS FROM ROD RUTHERFORD (DAVID ABDUL KICK)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
2313
TD0:05LOUSAKA POLITE 6 YD PASS FROM ROD RUTHERFORD (DAVID ABDUL KICK)
Drive info: 4 plays, 15 yards.
3013
FOURTH QUARTERPITTTA&M
TD12:25COURTNEY LEWIS 1 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)
Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards.
3020
TD7:13LARRY FITZGERALD 49 YD PASS FROM ROD RUTHERFORD (DAVID ABDUL KICK)
Drive info: 3 plays, 46 yards.
3720
TD3:34ANDY MATAKIS 2 YD PASS FROM DUSTIN LONG (MISSED KICK)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
3726