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Pitt, Penn State Win Openers in Thrilling Fashion; Gannon, Cal Triumph

Penn State's Sean Clifford (14) engineered a game-winning drive to beat Purdue. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick's work here

PITTSBURGH (AP) — M.J. Devonshire returned a tipped pass 56 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 remaining and No. 17 Pitt beat West Virginia 38-31 on Thursday night in the return of the Backyard Brawl – and an instant classic edition of one of college football’s great rivalry games.

The Panthers (1-0) edged their rivals for the first time since 2008 after a pass by West Virginia’s JT Daniels smacked off the hands of Bryce Ford-Wheaton and into the hands of Devonshire, who weaved his way through traffic to give Pitt its second touchdown in 43 seconds to turn a seven-point deficit into a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Sean Clifford connected with Keyvone Lee for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Penn State football team the lead with 57 seconds remaining as the Nittany Lions earned a 35-31 win over Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium to begin the 2022 season.

Clifford completed 20-of-37 passes for 282 yards and a career-high-tying four passing touchdowns, while adding a 2-yard rushing score. Mitchell Tinsley caught seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in his Penn State debut, while KeAndre Lambert-Smith had four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. Brenton Strange added a 67-yard touchdown reception. The Nittany Lions tallied 406 total yards, including 308 through the air.

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ERIE, Pa. – Kory Curtis (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more, and even kicked four extra points and served as the punter, to lead Gannon to an impressive 47-13 win over a Charleston (WV) team that was 8-2 last year in the season opener for both teams.

While denying Charleston’s Quinn Sanders a win in his first game as head coach, the Golden Knights presented head coach Erik Raeburn his 150th career win. Melvin Blanks (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) and Antonio Wright (Palm Bay, Fla./Melbourne) Jr. each ran for 100 yards and the defense turned in a strong showing, limiting the Golden Eagles to 41 yards rushing while recording seven sacks.

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CALIFORNIA (Sept. 1) – Senior quarterback Noah Mitchell (Euclid, Ohio/Euclid) set the all-time school record for passing touchdowns in the season-opener on Thursday night, as the No. 21 Vulcans rolled to a 35-15 victory against Fairmont State at Adamson Stadium in non-conference play.

With the win, the California (PA) football team opens the campaign with a 1-0 record and has won 15 of its last 18 season-openers. Meanwhile, the Fighting Falcons start the year with a 0-1 mark after being chosen sixth in the preseason Mountain East Conference (MEC) poll.

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CLARION, Pa. – Playing under the lights in front of an impassioned home crowd, the Clarion football team cut their halftime deficit in half but were unable to finish off the comeback in falling 21-14 to West Liberty at Memorial Stadium.

The Golden Eagles showcased a potent rushing offense against the Hilltoppers, totaling 199 rushing yards on 42 attempts for a 4.4 yards per carry average. Most of that damage was done by returning all-conference running back Khalil Owens, who went off for 120 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.

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