PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Bill Stull completed his first seven passes in his first college start to prop up a Pittsburgh offense that couldn't run the ball until the second half, and the Panthers won an unevenly played opener against Eastern Michigan 27-3 on Saturday night.
Stull, a junior who backed up three-year starter Tyler Palko last season, was 14-of-20 for 177 yards and a touchdown on a 21-yard completion to Oderick Turner in the second quarter that allowed the Panthers (1-0) to open a 14-3 lead.
Stull, a former Pittsburgh high school star, gave the Panthers a scare when he was pulled late in the third quarter after injuring his right thumb on a handoff. He had a bandage and an ice pack on his thumb after returning to the bench, and coach Dave Wannstedt said there was a chance Stull won't play against Grambling next week.
Stull's status will likely be determined after he undergoes tests Sunday.
With the Panthers' running game a decided work in progress -- they had only 19 yards on 13 carries at halftime against one of major college football's weakest teams -- Stull could be the key to any Pitt success this season. He attempted only 10 passes last season, and is one of the most inexperienced Pitt starting quarterbacks in a quarter-century.
Stull found a rhythm early, hitting Marcel Pestano for a 41-yard gain late in the first quarter for a first down at the 24. Stull then found tight end Darrell Strong for 19 yards to the 1, where Shane Brooks scored the first of his two 1-yard TD runs.
Pitt averaged fewer than two yards a carry until LaRod Stephens-Howling ran for 30 yards to the Eagles' 33 the play after Stull was injured. With Stull out, Pitt stayed mostly on the ground as freshman LeSean McCoy -- the one-time Miami recruit -- finished with 68 yards on 10 carries in his first college game. Stephens-Howling ran for 67 yards on 16 carries, with nearly half his yardage on that single carry.
Eastern Michigan, which won only one game a year ago during an 11th consecutive losing season, never got anything going offensively after taking an early 3-0 lead on a 27-yard Sean Dutcher field goal. On that drive, a wide-open freshman tight end Josh LeDuc dropped an apparent touchdown pass at the goal line and the Eagles never got close to the end zone again during a sixth consecutive loss over two seasons.
The Eagles' Andy Schmitt was 16-of-27 for 106 yards but didn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards. Only one Eagles rusher, Pierre Walker with 30 yards, had more than 5 yards rushing. Pitt led 325-145 in total yardage and 130-39 in rushing yards, with all but 19 yards in the second half.
Pitt won for the 10th time in its last 11 season openers. The Panthers started 6-1 a season ago, but lost their final five to go 6-6 and miss out on a bowl game for the second year in a row under coach Dave Wannstedt.