PITTSBURGH – Kenny Pickett ended his Heinz Field career the same way he began it – with a big win. Pitt defeated Virginia 48-38 on Saturday to clinch the ACC Coastal Division.
The Panthers (No. 18 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings) will play in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte on Dec. 4.
Pitt also secured its first nine-win season since 2009, when the Panthers finished 10-3.
The matchup between the ACC’s two most productive quarterbacks lived up to the hype as Pickett and Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong put on a show on Saturday afternoon. The two combined for 827 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
While Armstrong put up better stats than Pickett, it was the senior quarterback and his favorite wide receiver, sophomore Jordan Addison, who were the story of the day. Pickett completed 26-of-41 passes for four touchdowns – all to Addison – and two interceptions. Addison finished the day with 14 receptions for 202 yards and scores of 11, 18, 34, and 62 yards.
Addison also had a 39-yard punt return to give the Panthers good field position
The Panthers took a 41-31 lead with just under ten minutes remaining in the game after Virginia penalties extended the Pitt drive twice – once after Coen King was flagged for defensive pass interference as the Panthers faced fourth-and-1 from the Virginia 30. Three plays later, it looked like Virginia would hold Pitt to a field goal, but the Cavaliers jumped on the field goal attempt, giving Pitt a first and goal at the Virginia 5-yard line.
The Panthers were backed up to the 10 after getting called for an ineligible receiver downfield, but 9-yard reception by Addison set the Panthers up at the 1 and freshman tailback Rodney Hammond punched it in.
Armstrong and the Cavaliers weren’t done though. They needed just two plays and 25 seconds for a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 39-yard Ra’Shaun Henry touchdown to pull Virginia within three.
After each defense made a stand, the Panthers got the ball at their own 23 with 3:47 remaining in the game. After Hammond ran the ball four consecutive times, forcing Virginia to call their final two timeouts, Pickett hit Addison for a 20-yard gain that Addison took the rest of the way for a 62-yard score.
The Cavaliers got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining and no timeouts. They moved the ball 73 yards in 51 seconds but were stopped on fourth-and-2 at the Pitt 14 and the Panthers ended the game in victory formation.
No. 20 PITT 48, VIRGINIA 38
Virginia 7 14 10 7 — 38
Pittsburgh 0 24 10 14 — 48
UVA-Thompson 3 pass from Armstrong (Farrell kick), 10:28.
PITT-Addison 11 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 14:56.
PITT-Addison 18 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 10:01.
UVA-Hollins 2 run (Farrell kick), 6:52.
PITT-Abanikanda 98 kickoff return (Scarton kick), 6:39.
PITT-FG Scarton 36, 2:49.
UVA-J.Woods 7 pass from Armstrong (Farrell kick), :52.
UVA-FG Farrell 30, 12:53.
PITT-Addison 34 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 8:32.
UVA-Thompson 8 run (Farrell kick), 5:06.
PITT-FG Scarton 23, 1:46.
PITT-Hammond 1 run (Scarton kick), 9:43.
UVA-R.Henry 39 pass from Armstrong (Farrell kick), 9:18.
PITT-Addison 62 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 2:10.
First downs 29 27
Total Net Yards 521 509
Rushes-yards 24-34 38-169
Passing 487 340
Punt Returns 0-0 2-38
Kickoff Returns 0-0 1-98
Interceptions Ret. 2-33 1-0
Comp-Att-Int 36-51-1 26-42-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 5-31 3-26
Punts 6-40.833 3-40.667
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-65 8-65
Time of Possession 30:05 29:55
RUSHING-Virginia: Hollins 7-30, Thompson 3-17, Taulapapa 2-11, Darrington 3-10, (Team) 1-(minus 7), Armstrong 8-(minus 27). Pitt: Davis 12-100, Hammond 15-66, Abanikanda 3-19, (Team) 2-(minus 2), Pickett 6-(minus 14).
PASSING-Virginia: Armstrong 36-49-1-487, (Team) 0-1-0-0, Thompson 0-1-0-0. Pitt: Pickett 26-41-2-340, Patti 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Virginia: Thompson 11-126, Wicks 10-144, Woods 6-75, R.Henry 3-76, Kemp 3-24, Fields 2-32, Darrington 1-10. Pitt: Addison 14-202, Wayne 4-28, Jacques-Louis 2-33, Bartholomew 2-32, Krull 2-23, Abanikanda 1-15, Tipton 1-7.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.