October 9, 2006

Pitt notes: More conference honors for Panthers

The most rushing yardage in the Big East so far this season counts for something, in the eyes of the conference decision-makers, as does contributing to three sacks, forcing two fumbles, and recovering another. While one player accomplishing all of those feats would be downright astounding, it's still quite impressive that all of that comes from one team.

That team was the Pitt Panthers, and the venue for those displays was the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, where the Panthers beat the Orange 21-11 on Saturday. For their respective performances, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and defensive end Chris McKillop were named Big East Players of the Week on each side of the ball.

Stephens-Howling rushed 27 times for 221 yards, the fifth-best rushing total in the nation this year, and the top mark in the conference thus far. McKillop's sacks resulted in a total of 20 lost yards for Syracuse, and his fumbles, both forced and recovered, came at opportune times: with the Orange driving inside Pitt territory in the fourth quarter, McKillop forced a fumble that the Panthers recovered at their own 14-yard line; McKillop's own recovery stopped an Orange drive at the Pitt 34-yard line in the first quarter.

"Anytime the team wins and some guys get some recognition, that's a good thing for our players, a good thing for our team, and a good thing for the university," head coach Dave Wannstedt said Monday. "Both [awards] are well-deserved and I think it's a compliment not just to the individual but to the offense, defense, and the rest of our football team."

With Stephens-Howling and McKillop receiving the awards, the Panthers have now had five total Big East Players of the Week. Linebackers Clint Session and H.B. Blades each won the award in the first and second weeks of the season, respectively, and quarterback Tyler Palko was recognized for his performance against The Citadel.

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