Pitt clinches ACC Coastal Division 48-38

PITTWR Tre Tipton celebrates Pitt win (Photo Credit : Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

Pitt Clinches ACC Costal in 48-38 win vs. Virginia

For the second time in 4 years, the Pittsburgh Panthers are Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division Champions. The first time was in 2018 when they travelled to North Carolina to beat Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and this time, they did so in front of the Heinz Field home
crowd  beating the Virginia Cavaliers 48-38.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi celebrates(Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

“Wow, what a ball game. I couldn’t be prouder of our football team in there. Not an easy game, good football team, but our guys hung in there.” Said Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi “From the
first minute to the 60th minute it was a ball game. We knew we were in for a dogfight. I’ll give Brennan Armstrong and Bronco Mendenhall a lot of credit.”

The Panthers knew it was going to be a battle vs a Cavaliers team that also had Coastal Clinching plans on their mind. Had they beat the Panthers, they would have needed to beat Virginia Tech next Saturday to clinch the title, but it was to no avail as the Panthers were able to fight them off
and get the job done.

Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong (#5) attempting a pass against the Panthers ( Photo Credit: Vince Butts -UMT Sports)

Heisman Trophy Candidate QB Kenny Pickett overcame two interceptions and led Pitt to victory after passing for 340 yards (26-41) and 4 TDs, all to WR Jordan Addison. Pickett was truly in championship form as he also returned from an apparent injury and was Willis Reed-like in his
return to the field as he led them to a TD by RB Rodney Hammond Jr. (15 Carries, 66 yards)

Pitt QB Kenny Pickett warms up before the game against UVA (Photo Credit Vince Butts UMT Sports)

Pickett was also articulate on two 4 th downs in which he shook off would-be tacklers and found Addison for TDs. The Biletnikoff Award candidate (Addison) also had an amazing game with career-highs in pass receptions
(14), yards (202) and his 4 TDs tied Pitt program single-game record set by Julius Dawkins in 1981 (against Cincinnati and Army) and tied by Billy Davis in 1994 (Rutgers).

The sophomore receiver became the first Pitt player to eclipse 200 receiving yards since Larry Fitzgerald had 207 on eight receptions at Rutgers on Oct. 18, 2003.

Pitt WR Jordan Addison (#3) on the move against UVA ( Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

Addison now has 15 touchdown catches on the season to rank third on Pitt’s single-season list. He trails only Larry Fitzgerald, who had a school-record 22 in 2003, and Julius Dawkins, who had 16 in 1981.

Pitt’s running game was also remarkable as they collectively rushed for 169 yards. RB Vincent Davis Jr led the way with 100 yards. The Panthers other TD came from another RB, Israel Abanikanda as he returned a kick 98 yards for a TD. K Sam Scarton also added 2 FG for the Panthers.

Pitt’s challenge was overcoming Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong as he battled the Panthers by passing for 487 yards (36-49), 3 TDs and 1 Interception. 126 of those yards were to WR Keytaon Thompson (10 receptions, TD) and 133 to fellow WR Dontayvion Wicks (11 receptions, TD).

TD catch by Cavalier Receiver Keytaon Thompson (Photo Credit : Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

They gave the Panthers their best shot, but it was not enough to overcome Pit this day. “Just a lot of plays to be made out there, and our kids made plays. They kept believing. Like I said, Virginia’s a good football team.” Said Narduzzi “Again, Brennan Armstrong must have been able to play last week. Any wincing we saw pregame must have been an act because that
guy’s a tough guy and a really, really good football player.”

The Panthers (9-2, 6-1 ACC) will advance to the ACC Championship Game December 4 th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Next Saturday, they will close out the regular season vs. the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome.
“Coastal Champions, that’s really not what our goal is. It’s the ACC Championship.”

Said Narduzzi “We’ve got unfinished business with Syracuse this weekend, and then we’ll all head to Charlotte.”

Notes: Pickett has now thrown for 3,857 yards this season, eclipsing Rod Rutherford’s mark of 3,679 set in 2003.With four TD passes against Virginia, Pickett now has 36 on the year, the second most at Pitt in a season. The Pitt record is 37 touchdown passes, set by Dan Marino in 1981 and tied by Rod Rutherford in 2003.

Ray Porter Jr July 2021

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