LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Pittsburgh promised it would learn from its mistakes after letting a 14-point lead slip away in a loss to N.C. State last week.
The Panthers proved to be a quick study.
Bill Stull threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers overwhelmed Louisville 35-10 on Friday night.
Dorin Dickerson caught two of Stull's scoring tosses as Pittsburgh (4-1, 1-0 Big East) overcame a shaky first half to hand the Cardinals (1-3, 0-1) their eighth straight loss to a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Freshman running back Dion Lewis ran for 87 yards, Ray Graham added 75 yards and a score and Pittsburgh dominated the second half to take some of the sting out of a stunning collapse against the Wolfpack.
"We finished the game, which is all that matters," Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We won a tough game in a hostile environment on the road. But we can still play a whole lot better."
Maybe, but it'll be difficult topping their second half against the Cardinals. Pittsburgh scored 28 unanswered points and outgained Louisville 266-134.
"Our mindset was to go out in the second half and get the job done," Stull said.
While Stull thrived in the second half, Louisville's Adam Froman stalled. The junior college transfer made his first FBS start when Justin Burke couldn't play with a bruised sternum and was battered by the Panthers. He threw for 166 yards and was sacked six times.
"We're just a couple of plays away," Froman said. "We had a good game plan. We knew what they were going to do. We just didn't execute."
Pittsburgh's defense had a little something to do with it.
"Our whole concept is putting pressure on the opponent and finishing a game," said middle linebacker Adam Gunn, who made his first start in three weeks after recovering from an ankle injury. "We kept our foot on the pedal in the second half. I think our defensive line is the best in the country."
They played like it in the second half, allowing the Panthers to shake off a lethargic first half that saw the Cardinals take a 10-7 lead.
Stull wasted little time getting going after the break. He needed just seven plays to give Pittsburgh the lead, hitting Dickerson with a 37-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers back in front.
Froman, a junior college transfer and former wide receiver,made his only real mistake on Louisville's next possession. He was scrambling for a first down when the ball was stripped by Pittsburgh's Myles Caragein. The Panthers recovered at the Pittsburgh 29 and Stull didn't waste any time taking advantage, hitting Jonathan Baldwin on a 71-yard scoring play to put the Panthers up 21-10.
It would be all the cushion the defense needed.
After self-destructing against the Wolfpack, Pittsburgh's pass rush overwhelmed Froman and the Cardinals. The Panthers entered the game fourth in the country in sacks per game (4.25), they bettered that total early in the fourth quarter while sacking Froman on a 4th and 11 at the Pittsburgh 31 to snuff Louisville's last real shot.
"We really took last week personal," said defensive end Greg Romeus, who had 3.5 of Pittsburgh's six sacks. "We want to take full responsibility. We took on the challenge."
The Cardinals wore all-black uniforms as a "Black Out" promotion. A similar ploy three years ago propelled Louisville to a win over West Virginia and an eventual Big East title.
Those days seem long gone.
Louisville fell to 4-11 in the Big East since coach Steve Kragthorpe replaced Bobby Petrino after the Cardinals won the 2006 Big East title. The problems that have plagued the program for most of the last two years: penalties and an inability to stop opponents, reared their head again on Friday.
Louisville was penalized 10 times for 100 yards and allowed the Panthers to roll up 404 yards of total offense.
"Times [are] tough, but you just have to keep playing," Louisville defensive end Greg Scruggs said. "We do our jobs, we come away with a win. You take away two big plays and we win the game. They weren't doing anything complicated. They executed and we didn't and that's why the scoreboard is the way it is."
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