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Abanikanda pushes No. 23 Pitt past Western Michigan 34-13

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
Credit: AP
Western Michigan quarterback Jack Saloper, left, looks to throw against Pittsburgh's Bam Brima during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Kalamazoo, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

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.

INJURY REPORT

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).

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

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.

UP NEXT

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.

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