Carolina Win Against Pittsburgh Makes For .500 Season Record

CHAPEL HILL – UNC won their fourth consecutive game against the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday, giving them a .500 record for the season.

The game opened up with the Pittsburgh Panthers receiving the kick off and Lafayette Pitt made a strong beginning.  Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage kept nailing his throws down the field making it to inside the 10 yard line.

Carolina defense stepped up the defense and didn’t give up the field, forcing Pittsburgh to take a 28 yard field goal. 0-3

UNC didn’t get the same momentum off the first drive as many people were expecting.  Their drive only gained 2 yards before the Tar Heels punted the ball back to the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s second drive once again showed the power of running back James Conner when mixed with Tom Savage.  The Panthers drove the ball 61 yards down the field until Kareem Martin came in with a sack forcing a fumble from Savage.

UNC’s Travis Hughes recovered the fumbled ball on the North Carolina 24.  This time the Tar Heels made some successful plays and continued to move the ball down field.  After 12 plays and 60 yards, Marquis Williams finished off the drive by rushing 16 yards into the in zone.

UNC’s touchdown closed out the first quarter leaving only 38 seconds for Pittsburgh. 7-3

The second quarter began in favor of the Tar Heels by pushing the Panthers back 12 yards and forcing a punt at the beginning.

UNC’s rushing game made for a big presence during their 53 yard drive down the field.  They didn’t make to the in-zone, but successfully got a 38 yard field goal giving them a nice lead over the Panthers. 10-3

UNC’s defense continued to be hard hitting, forcing Pittsburgh to make small plays and forcing them to punt the ball after only a 20-yard drive.

UNC kept up the momentum after the punt with an amazing pass to Eric Ebron, gaining 58 yards on the play and moving the ball to the Pittsburgh 32. The Tar Heels kept the pressure up and continued to move the ball down the field with short passes from Williams and a couple rushes from T.J. Logan.  Williams made his second touchdown with a 10-yard rush into the in-zone. 17-3

After kicking off the ball back to the Panthers, the Tar Heels defense continued to stop any progress down the field.  After a few small plays, Kareem Martin sacked Tom Savage for a 10-yard loss and making the Panthers punt the ball.

UNC finished off the half with a 65-yard kick-off return by Ryan Switzer to secure a lead for the Carolina Tar Heels. 24-3

The Tar Heels didn’t start off the second half with the same momentum and force that they ended with at the half.  After gaining a few yards, several incomplete passes forced the Tar Heels to punt the ball.

Carolina Defense again showed their strength by cutting out the Pittsburgh rushing game.  Kareem Martin got another great sack on Tom Savage forcing a fumble and recovering the ball at the 12.

Although Carolina got a hold of the ball close to the in-zone, Pittsburgh defense was stopping the Carolina fast-paced offense. After a loss on a rush and a short pass, the Tar Heels didn’t get the first down they needed and took a successful 27-yard field goal. 27-3

The Pittsburgh Panthers answered right back to the Carolina field goal with a powerful drive taking the ball down the field.  Several passes by quarterback Tom Savage led to the first downs that allowed the Panthers to continue momentum towards the in-zone.  The drive ended with a 33-yard pass to Devin Street for their first touchdown of the game. 27-10

In the fourth quarter the Pittsburgh Panthers stepped up the pressure and made several strong plays.  They started out with a 96 yard drive that took the Panthers all the way to the Carolina in-zone.  The final play of the drive was an 8 yard pass to Isaac Bennett for the touchdown. 27-17

On receiving the kick off, UNC slowly pushed the ball a few yards up the field until a holding penalty and fumble switched possession back to the Panthers on Carolina territory.

The Tar Heels kept up the defense again and Otis sacked Tom Savage to keep them from getting a first down.  The Pittsburgh Panthers made a successful field goal from 42 yards to bring them closer to the Tar Heels. 27-20

At the kick-off, the Tar Heels fumbled the ball at the North Carolina 13 and was recovered by Pitt Jason from Pittsburgh.  After a short rush, the Tar Heels got a call for pass interference, leaving the Panthers only 2-yards away from a touchdown.  Pittsburgh quickly launched James Conner over the line of scrimmage and into the in zone, tying up the game 27-27.

UNC didn’t have the momentum they needed for the next drive as they only made it 15-yards before needing to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh.  Fortunately the Carolina defense was ready for the Panthers and quickly shut them down before any big plays could be made.

The kickoff to UNC lead to the last touchdown of the game as Ryan Switzer ran 61 yards for a kick-off return touchdown, giving the Tar Heels the lead once again with 34-27.

With 5 minutes left in the fourth, the Tar Heels needed to guarantee the Panthers didn’t make it into the in zone again.  With one final drive, Savage threw a 21-yard pass to start.  After getting another first down and reaching behind the 40-yard line, the Panthers kept up momentum. The Carolina defense stepped up to the plate though and held off the Panthers from making it past the Carolina 25-yard line.

With only a minute and some change left the Tar Heels held onto the ball to secure their win.

Overall Carolina had 173 passing yards, a149 rushing yards, with 17 first downs and 2 turnovers. The Pittsburgh Panthers showed up well on paper too with 313 passing yards, 46 rushing yards, and 22 first downs.

North Carolina now has a .500 record for the season and made their fourth consecutive win for the regular season.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-win-against-pittsburgh-makes-for-500-season-record/

Panthers Lose OT Campbell to Torn Rotator Cuff

Image courtesy of digtriad.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Panthers coach Ron Rivera says backup offensive tackle Bruce Campbell will need surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

Rivera said after Monday’s practice that the team hasn’t made a decision on if they’ll place Campbell on injured reserve.

The 25-year-old Campbell suffered the injury in Carolina’s preseason win over the Chicago Bears on Friday night.

The Panthers had planned on Campbell being the team’s backup right tackle again this season. Rivera said the three-year NFL veteran was playing well in training camp.

It’s unclear at this point if the Panthers will look to bring in a free agent tackle to replace Campbell.

In addition, Rivera says rookie guard Edmund Kugbila (hamstring) suffered a minor setback during Sunday’s practice and could miss another week of action.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/panthers-lose-ot-campbell-to-torn-rotator-cuff/

Panthers Lose FB Zordich for the Year to Torn ACL

Image courtesy of digtriad.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Panthers coach Ron Rivera says backup fullback Mike Zordich has torn the ACL in his left knee and will be placed on injured reserve this week.

Rivera made the announcement after Sunday night’s practice at Wofford College.

Zordich, who was facing an uphill battle for a spot on the 53-man roster, was injured in Carolina’s preseason game Friday night against the Chicago Bears.

Rivera also says cornerback James Dockery broke his thumb during the game and will need surgery but should return in a couple weeks. The team is waiting to hear on the extent of the shoulder injury suffered by backup offensive tackle Bruce Campbell.

Rivera also says wide receiver Armanti Edwards strained his hamstring and could miss a few practices.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/panthers-lose-fb-zordich-for-the-year-to-torn-acl/

Panthers CB Norman Eager to Reclaim Starting Job

Image courtesy of digtriad.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Josh Norman says he’s out to reclaim his starting job.

The Panthers second-year cornerback took a step in the right direction Friday night when he intercepted two passes, returning one 60 yards for a touchdown to spark Carolina to a 24-17 preseason victory over the Chicago Bears.

Norman did start against the Bears, but only because the Panthers opened with three cornerbacks on the field. Drayton Florence and Captain Munnerlyn have been working as the starters in Carolina’s base defense.

Norman wants to be an every-down player.

He started the first 12 games last season as a rookie before being benched in December after a rough game against Kansas City.

Now he’s set his sights on getting that starting job back, saying “If not, it’s like ‘What’s the point?”‘

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/panthers-cb-norman-eager-to-reclaim-starting-job/

New Security Measures Set at Panthers’ Stadium

Image courtesy of digtriad.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – New security measures await fans entering Bank of American Stadium to watch the Carolina Panthers in their preseason opener.

The Charlotte Observer reports that when fans show up for Friday night’s game, they’ll encounter new policies put in effect in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last April. The new rules are designed to protect fans and speed up security lines.

Under the new rules, only clear plastic or clear vinyl bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed. Sealable plastic bags are OK, as are foam seat pads without zippers, clasps or compartments.

NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller said fans regularly asked him to speed up the security process and the new policy should do that.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/new-security-measures-set-at-panthers-stadium/

Smith Says Not Getting Complacent Key to Success

Image courtesy of digtriad.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith says the reason he’s been able to play 12 years in the NFL is because he never allowed himself to get complacent.

The five-time Pro Bowler says complacency leads to laziness – and lazy is one thing he’s not.

Smith, 34, says when looking back at his legacy “a lot of people can say, ‘Well, he did this. He punched a guy. He did that. He’s this, he’s that,”‘ Smith said. “But one thing you’ll never say about me is I didn’t work. I’m going to work.”

Smith, who has played all 12 seasons with the Panthers, has 11,452 career yards receiving which ranks 23rd in NFL history.

Still Carolina’s No. 1 receiver, Smith caught 73 passes for 1,174 yards last season.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/smith-says-not-getting-complacent-key-to-success/

Rivera Blasts Players Following ‘Chippy’ Practice

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Panthers coach Ron Rivera ripped into his players after what he called a “chippy” practice.

Rivera gathered players together at midfield after Tuesday’s practice and could be seen angrily lecturing them about the potential for injuries when they lose their cool.

There were several confrontations during the morning practice, including one involving defensive end Greg Hardy and more than a dozen players in a heated scuffle. Quarterback Cam Newton and others stepped in and separated players.

Rivera says “we can’t have chippiness or late shots toward a teammate. The concern obviously is it escalates and it festers and it lingers and the next time we go out on the field somebody is taking a shot.”

Rivera warned players if they can’t abide by his rules they’ll sit out.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/rivera-blasts-players-following-chippy-practice/

Panthers Arrive At Camp With Sense Of Urgency

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Tight Greg Olsen says the Panthers need to approach training camp with a sense of urgency after the team’s sluggish starts the past two seasons.

Steve Smith couldn’t agree more.

The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver says “a sense of urgency is an understatement.”

Carolina started 1-6 last season and 1-5 in 2011. While the Panthers finished both seasons strong they weren’t able to dig themselves out of that early hole and make the playoffs.

Smith says “slow starts will get you fired, cut and bring change real quick for everyone.”

The Panthers arrived at Wofford College for training camp Thursday.

The Panthers will be without running back Jonathan Stewart and linebacker Jon Beason when they begin practice Friday night. Both starters say they’re still recovering from offseason surgery.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/panthers-arrive-at-camp-with-sense-of-urgency/

Panthers Kalil: No Super Bowl Talk This Year

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Carolina’s Ryan Kalil says he won’t be talking about the Super Bowl this preseason.

The Panthers three-time Pro Bowl center created a stir days before the start of training camp last July when he took out a full page advertisement in the Charlotte Observer and wrote about the Panthers being “Super Bowl XLVII champions!”

That didn’t happen.

The Panthers started 2012 slow and finished the season 7-9, failing to make the postseason.

Kalil doesn’t regret taking out the ad, saying he meant it as a rallying call for fans – not as a prediction.

While he feels just as strongly about this year’s team, Kalil says the lesson he and his teammates learned is the need to stay focused on the task at hand and not look too far ahead.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/panthers-kalil-no-super-bowl-talk-this-year/

Nike Apologizes for Panthers T-Shirt Error

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Nike has issued an apology for the geographic error on a line of Carolina Panthers T-shirts.

The sports apparel maker recently offered a black Panthers T-shirt which included a blue silhouette of the state of South Carolina, the team’s logo inside the silhouette and the letters “NC” in the upper left corner of the silhouette. The shirt sold for $32, but was soon taken down from the company’s web store.

Company spokesman Brian Strong said in an email that a small quantity of the shirts was offered for sale and shouldn’t have been. He said Nike apologizes for the error.

While the team’s name is meant to encompass the two Carolinas, the Panthers play home games in Charlotte. Their stadium is approximately 10 miles from the South Carolina state line.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/national-sports/nike-apologizes-for-panthers-t-shirt-error/