(Charlotte, NC) The Pitt Panthers wanted their first trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Game to be a memorable one, especially ending with a win. Well, one out of two isn’t bad as the Panthers were blown out by the Clemson Tigers 42-10 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Clemson star tailback Travis Etienne, the 2018 ACC Player of the Year, rushed for 156 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, as the Tigers (13-0) won the conference title for the fourth consecutive season.
The Panthers (7-6) relied heavily on their rushing attack, finishing with 192 yards, the most by any team against the Clemson defense this season.
Behind 14-0 near the end of the first quarter, Pitt mounted a comeback, cutting the lead to four points after a 1-yard Qadree Ollison touchdown, capping off a six-play drive that started at the Clemson 39-yard line.
But the Tigers scored 14 quick points at the end of the second quarter and pulled away in the second half, avenging their 43-42 defeat to Pitt in Death Valley in 2016.
“I’d like to congratulate the Clemson Tigers,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “Obviously, they’re a great football team. They deserved to win the game. They played better than we did. We had a lot of unforced errors out there. Again, great defenses make you have unforced errors.”
The Panthers were penalized eight times and turned the ball over three times.
Darrin Hall led the Panthers’ offensive attack, finishing with 86 yards on 14 carries, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. Ollison also rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries with a score.
Hall joined Ollison with over 1,000 yards on the year, marking the first time in Pitt history that the team has two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
“Credit goes to the offensive line for that accomplishment,”Hall said of making Pitt history with Ollison. “But I’d give back every yard for a win tonight.”
Damar Hamlin led the defensive effort, finishing with a team-high eight tackles while Jason Pinnock was a stand-out performer in the secondary, recording three pass breakups. Pitt’s defense held the Clemson offense, which averaged 539.2 yards this season, to only 419 yards. It was the second-best defensive performance in 2018 against the undefeated Tigers.
The Panthers who are now have 7 wins against 6 losses have accepted an invitation to play Stanford in the Sun Bowl
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