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Panthers show progress in near-miss

February 19. 2013 3:44PM
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PITTSBURGH — Paul Chryst isn't a believer in moral victories. He prefers the kind of triumphs that show up in the win column.

Still, the first-year Pitt coach thinks the Panthers can take something other than heartache from Saturday night's 29-26 triple-overtime loss to Notre Dame.

For long stretches Pitt — which started the season losing to Youngstown State and getting run off the field in Cincinnati — held its own and then some in one of college football's toughest environments.

Running back Ray Graham churned up yardage, the defense made big stops and the Panthers appeared to be on the cusp of their biggest win since ending West Virginia's national title hopes five years ago.

It all fell apart.

Notre Dame scored two late touchdowns and Pitt kicker Kevin Harper missed a field goal in overtime that would have won it.

Yet where Chryst sees disappointment, he also sees progress.

I thought those guys in our locker room played for each other and put themselves out there, Chryst said. So I think every game you can learn something from and help you go forward.

Pitt (4-5) still needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible. The Panthers won't have much time to despair. They play at Connecticut on Friday night.

Chryst remains resolute his team can bounce back. Considering how far the program has come in two short months, it's hard to argue.

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