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Pittsburgh uses second-half run to topple Buffalo

PITTSBURGH -- LeSean McCoy scored on three short runs and Pittsburgh managed to avoid losing at home to a Mid-American Conference school for the second week in a row, driving for two touchdowns in the second half to hold off Buffalo 27-16 on Saturday night.

McCoy, limited to 71 yards in a loss to Bowling Green last week, scored on runs of 3, 1 and 2 yards while rushing for 93 yards -- still off his pace of last season, when he ran for 1,328 yards as a freshman.

Bill Stull was 22-of-33 for 241 yards and his throwing set up all three McCoy scores as Pitt (1-1) won despite trailing 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, leading 10-9 at halftime and 17-16 at the end of the third quarter.

The three-touchdown game was the fourth for McCoy in 14 college games. His third TD run came with 10:21 remaining and came after Stull hit T.J. Porter for 20 yards and Cedric McGee for 10 ahead of McCoy runs of 18 and 12 yards on a 74-yard drive.

Despite winning, Pitt is making what is supposed to be the easiest part of its schedule look difficult. Buffalo (1-1) has beaten only one school from a BCS conference, a 34-11 decision over Rutgers in 2002, yet trailed 10-9 after A.J. Principe kicked a 35-yard field goal to end the first half.

The Bulls had taken a 6-0 lead on Brandon Thermilus' 1-yard TD run -- Principe missed the extra point -- but McCoy answered early in the second quarter by scoring his first touchdown after Stull hit Derek Kinder and Nate Byham for 15-yard gains on consecutive plays.

Pitt needed to put a lot more effort into winning this one than the Panthers would have expected when the season began, despite Buffalo's season-opening 42-17 win over UTEP.

McCoy finished off a 63-yard drive that started the second half with his 1-yard scoring run, the first Pitt possession in which the Panthers consistently moved the ball on the ground.

Buffalo, a 13-point underdog, responded with Drew Willy's 39-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Brett Hamlin following a Pitt breakdown in coverage, but the Bulls still trailed 17-16 because of Principe's missed extra point.

James Starks, who ran for 179 yards against UTEP, ended with 20 carries for 97 yards but did not break any long runs -- his longest gain was 14 yards. Willy ended 21-of-34 for 223 yards and his nation's-best streak of consecutive passes without an interception ended at 284 when Eric Thatcher picked him off with 1:26 left in the game, his final throw of the game.

Before that, Conor Lee added a 42-yard field goal with 3:31 remaining that pushed Pitt's lead to 11 and meant Buffalo couldn't tie it with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion.