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October 4, 2010

Graham and Hutchins take conference honors

Ray Graham's performance in Pitt's 44-17 win over Florida International on Saturday was immediately legendary. On Monday the Big East conference decided that it was also impressed, as Graham was named the conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Graham rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries, setting a trio of career high's in the process. He nearly broke Pitt's all-time single-game rushing record, falling 26 yards short of Tony Dorsett's 303 yards against Notre Dame in 1975.

Graham also caught three passes for 19 yards and gained 78 yards on kick returns, giving him 374 all-purpose yards. That mark tied the school record for all-purpose yards by a running back; Dorsett also gained 374 in the 1975 Notre Dame game.

"That was about as good an effort as I've seen by an individual," Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt said after the game.

For the season, Graham now has 492 rushing yards on 52 carries for an average of 164 yards per game and nearly 10 yards per carry. He now has three consecutive 100-yard games after missing the season opener at Utah, and his per-game average leads the Big East and ranks third nationally. Additionally, Graham is averaging 236.33 all-purpose yards per game, the highest such average in the nation.

He also leads Pitt with five touchdowns and is the teams' third leading receiver with 92 yards on nine receptions.

"I like running as if my life depended on it," Graham said after the FIU game. "That's how I run. So whenever I'm out there, I just try to run hard and not get tackled.

Graham wasn't the only Panther honored by the Big East this week. Redshirt senior kicker/punter Dan Hutchins was also named the conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Florida International.

Hutchins hit all three of his field goals, connecting from 30 yards and twice from 38 yards. He also nailed his one punt attempt, pinning Florida International deep in its own territory with a coffin corner punt that bounced out of bounds at the 2.

"Hutch continues to do a great job with the field goals and the punting," Wannstedt said.

Hutchins currently leads the Big East in five categories: punting (46.1 avg.), kick scoring (8.8 points/game), field goals (2.00 field goals/game), field goal percentage (72.7%, 8 of 11) and PAT kicking percentage (tied, 100%, 11 of 11).

Graham and Hutchins are the first Pitt players to receive one of the Big East Player of the Week awards this season. The Panthers (2-2) play at Notre Dame this Saturday.




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