ACC Champs

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Pitt Panther 2019 (Photo Credit: Vince Butts UMT Sports)

 Pitt beats Wake Forest 45-21, Clinches ACC
Championship

In 2018, the Pitt Panthers beat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to win their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division Championship and in 2021, Pitt would face Wake Forest in the ACC Championship and once again would be successful in 45-21 defeat for their
first-ever ACC conference Championship since joining in 2014.

It is also Pitt’s first outright Conference Championship since they won the Big East Conference in 2004 under former head coach Walt Harris. (The Panthers also won a share of the Big East Conference in 2010 under
head coach Dave Wannstedt)

 

 


“I took this job because I knew we could win a championship”;-Said Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi during the trophy presentation. “Seven years later, we’re here.” 

The 15 th -ranked Panthers have won 11 games for the first time since 1981 under head coach Jackie Sherril that included players Dan Marino, Hugh Green, Russ Grimm, and Mark May. That team went onto win the Sugar Bowl and finished the season ranked #10 in the Associated Press
Poll.


Just like Marino led his 1981 Panthers, the 2021 Panthers were led by Heisman Trophy Candidate Kenny Pickett, who has not only broken several of Marino’s records, but he is also a Finalist for the Walter Camp and Manning Awards after a season of over 40 TDs and 4,000 yards.

Pickett continued his successful 2021 campaign as he passed for 253 yards (compared to only 8 yards vs. Clemson in the 2018 ACC Championship Game), 2 TDs and an incredible 58-yard TD run that froze the entire Wake Forest defense when he appeared to slide his feet. Pickett’s pass
TDs were to RB Rodney Hammond Jr. and WR Jared Wayne. RB Israel Abinakanda (9 carries, 55 yards) scored 2 TDs and DB Erik Hallett intercepted and returned one of Wake Forest QB
Jake Hartman’s passes 19 yards for a TD. K Sam Scarton added 3 points on a 41-yard FG.
“This is the feeling I’ve been chasing since I came through the doors in 2017.” Said Pickett. “It’s unbelievable to have that feeling.”

 


Biletnikoff Award Finalist WR Jordan Addison led all receivers with 126 yards on 8 receptions. What was expected to be a shootout of a game, only lasted one quarter as both teams combined for 35 points as the Demon Deacons took a 21-14 lead when Hartman found WR Taylor Morin. for a 26-yard TD.
But Wake Forest would fail to score any more points the rest of the game thanks to the Pitt defense adjusting and applying constant pressure on Hartman as they sacked him five times and intercepted him 4 times. Hallett had two interceptions and the other 2 came from fellow DBs AJ
Woods and Marquis Williams.


The Panthers will now prepare for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game (Which they will find out Sunday), their highest since the Fiesta Bowl in the 2004 season. Their goal is to win one more for 12 wins for the first time since their National Championship 1976 season under Head Coach
Johnny Majors.

“The unfinished business is to get to 12 wins like 1976. And we intend to get there.”-Said Narduzzi.

Notes: Pickett, who entered the game with 79 career touchdown passes—tied with Dan Marino (1979-82) for the most in school history—threw two against Wake Forest, establishing a new all- time Pitt mark. Pickett’s 81 TD passes rank fifth in ACC career annals. Pickett now has an ACC-
record 42 touchdown passes on the season, eclipsing the prior mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson over 15 games in 2016.

 

Ray Porter Jr July 2021

Please e-mail Ray at rayporterjr72@gmail.com
Follow him @RP2872_Jr on Twitter

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