Eastern Michigan football players lose cool, game to Pittsburgh in Quick Lane Bowl
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Pittsburgh players took punches, and one was hit with spit, and the Panthers still kept their cool in critical moments to win a bowl game for the first time in five appearances under coach Pat Narduzzi.
Kenny Pickett threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Taysir Mack with 47 seconds left and the Panthers held on to beat Eastern Michigan 34-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl on Thursday night.
“Our kids held their composure,” Narduzzi said.
After taking its first lead of the game in the final minute, Pittsburgh (8-5) forced Eastern Michigan to turn it over on downs from its 40 to seal its first bowl victory since winning in Detroit six years ago with former coach Paul Chryst.
The Eagles (6-7) came up just short in a closely contested game just as they did in three previous bowls with coach Chris Creighton and the usually disciplined team unraveled at times.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Mike Glass was ejected with 10 seconds left after throwing punches at two players and inadvertently grazing an official, who was trying keep players separated. Eagles cornerback Kevin McGill was ejected earlier for unsportsmanlike conduct. Creighton said officials told him McGill spit on an opponent.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for any of that,” Creighton said. “They’re embarrassed by it. They apologized to the team. I’m embarrassed. I apologize to anybody’s who’s watching.”
Glass was 28 of 50 for 311 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The senior also ran for 83 yards and a score.
He was not made available for comment after the game, but was contrite on Twitter.
“I let God and my family down!” Glass posted on his account.
Pickett completed 27 of 39 passes for 361 yards and three scores, including a school-record, 96-yard TD pass to Maurice Ffrench that tied the game in the second quarter. Ffrench finished with 12 catches for 165 yards.
“They had some explosive plays that were the difference in the game,” Creighton said.
Ffrench had 96 receptions this season, breaking Larry Fitzgerald’s school record of 92 set in 2003.
“That’s with missing a couple games,” Narduzzi said. “He fought back with that broken jaw.””
Glass surpassed Charlie Batch’s single-season records of 3,390 yards of total offense and 23 touchdown passes set in 1997.