KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Pitt junior running back Israel Abanikanda carried the ball 31 times for 131 yards and a touchdown to lead the No. 23 Panthers to a 34-13 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday.
Pitt (2-1) was without its top two quarterbacks for the nonconference contest, but third-string signal caller Nate Yarnell was efficient under center, going 9-for-12 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown.
Western Michigan (1-2) had its opportunities, with a 31-yard double pass from receiver Anthony Sambucci to receiver A.J. Abbott for a touchdown that cut Pitt's lead to 20-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Pitt responded on its next drive when Yarnell found sophomore receiver Konata Mumpfield for a 6-yard touchdown reception to give the Panthers a two-score cushion. Redshirt junior running back Daniel Carter would ice the game with 3:03 to play in the fourth quarter when he plunged in for a 4-yard touchdown run.
Pitt: USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis did not play after suffering an injury in the Panthers’ 34-27 overtime loss to Tennessee. His primary backup, redshirt senior Nick Patti, also sat out against the Broncos after injuring his ankle in the second half against the Vols.
Western Michigan: Western Michigan was without starting defensive end Marshawn Kneeland (lower leg) and starting cornerback DaShon Bussell (knee).
Pittsburgh: The Panthers came into Kalamazoo with revenge on their mind. In the first meeting between the schools last season, Western Michigan pulled off a 44-41win, essentially spoiling Pitt's chances of making the College Football Playoff.
Western Michigan: The Broncos kept the game close against a ranked opponent until the final minutes of the contest, but redshirt junior quarterback Jack Salopek struggled in his third career start, throwing three costly interceptions while finishing 6 of 18 passing for 99 yards.
Pitt: The Panthers couldn’t afford a loss to a Group of Five opponent if they wanted to remain in the Top 25. Even playing with a third-string quarterback, they earned a comfortable margin of victory.
Pitt: The Panthers welcome Rhode Island on Sept. 24 for their first-ever meeting.
Western Michigan: The Broncos visit San Jose State on Sept. 24. Western Michigan defeated the Spartans last season, 23-3.