Pitt won the inaugural Keystone Conference Championship Saturday with a 35-26 comeback win over St. Joe’s. The game was televised live throughout Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
The Hawks actually held a 21-10 lead at halftime, but the Panthers roared back and outscored St. Joe’s 25-5 in the second half. Despite being down two scores at intermission, Pitt didn’t panic.
“At halftime we were confident. There was really no doubt. It was just these next 40 minutes, this is our game to win. 40 minutes for the next 40 years of your life. There was a sense of urgency, but there was no fear.” Pitt’s Jake Radziwon said, quoting “Varsity Blues”.
Pitt went undefeated in the Keystone regular season in the fall, and the Panthers thought they’d won an automatic bid to the DI-AA playoffs. However, a conference tournament was added late, ruffling Pitt’s feathers.
St. Joe’s assistant head coach Sean Duffy is the Keystone commissioner and Pitt was displeased that the conference decided to add a playoff. Radziwon said beating St. Joe’s, Duffy’s team, in Saturday’s final was gratifying.
“It is absolutely huge,” he said. “We have a large senior base on the team. And after all of the [drama] with the playoffs being added, that was just beyond anything we’ve ever experienced. It was amazing.”
Pitt now advances to the DI-AA Sweet 16. The Panthers will play close to home in the Pittsburgh regional, where they’re grouped with Middlebury, St. Bonaventure and Dartmouth.