Pitt beat UCLA to win the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. What happened, who was the player of the game, and what does it all mean?
Pitt 37, UCLA 35 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl What Happened, Player of the Game, What It All Means
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl What Happened
– In an insane game with several twists and turns, UCLA – with backup Ethan Garbers in the game – went 70 yards in about 90 seconds to go up 35-34 on a TJ Harden touchdown run. Pitt only had 34 seconds and no time outs, but QB Nick Patti was able to move the offense enough for Ben Sauls to hit his fifth field goal of the game, connecting from 47 yards out for the win. Before all of that …
– UCLA owned most of the game offensively, but was crushed by five turnovers. It was up 14-6 and driving, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson got picked off by Bub Means for a touchdown – followed up by a two-point conversion – to tie it up. UCLA pushed ahead by two touchdowns on its own pick six – Jaylin Davies took it 52 yards for a score, and then …
– Down 28-14, Pitt scored 20 straight points with two Rodney Hammond touchdown runs and two Sauls field goals to take the lead before the Bruins went on their final scoring drive.
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl Player of the Game
Ben Sauls, PK Pitt
He nailed five field goals from 22, 49, 31, 27, and the game-winner with four seconds to play from 47 yards away.
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Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl Fun Stats
– 4th Down Conversions: Pitt 4-for-4 – UCLA 0-for-1
– Time of Possession: Pitt 37:03 – UCLA 22:57
– UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 16-of-24 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns with three picks – and ran for 15 yards and a score – before getting knocked out of the game hurt.
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl What It All Means
Pitt was missing a whole slew of starters, but it scrapped and toughed it out to stay alive. The pass rush was good enough to keep the pressure on to force the five turnovers and four picks, and the O was saved time and again by Sauls finishing drives with field goals.
With this, the Panthers close a strange season with five straight wins and 20 victories over the last two years. For head coach Pat Narduzzi, this was a huge moment. He was 1-4 in bowl games before this, and the lone win was in the Quick Lane in a tough fight with Eastern Michigan.
Yeah, this sours the season a bit for UCLA. It had the disappointing loss to Arizona, the tough loss to USC, and the team that had the Pac-12 and CFP there for the taking in early November closed with three losses in the last four games. It had more of its top guys compared to Pitt – with a huge advantage at quarterback – and still lost.
Even so, this was the program’s best season since 2014, but a ten-win campaign would’ve looked a lot nicer. The program still has yet to win a bowl game under Chip Kelly, and it has won one since the 2014 Alamo.