Kenny Pickett rushed for two touchdowns and passed for a third, Jaylen Twyman made a critical sack in overtime, and host Pittsburgh outlasted North Carolina 34-27 on Thursday.
Pittsburgh (7-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) remained in the mix for the ACC Coastal title despite coughing up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers went ahead 24-10 in the third quarter when A.J. Davis capped a 14-play, 85-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. The drive ate up 6:33 off the clock.
But North Carolina (4-6, 3-4) erased the deficit when quarterback Sam Howell threw two touchdown passes in less than two minutes in the early fourth quarter. The first went 10 yards to Dyami Brown, the second 34 yards to Dazz Newsome.
Newsome caught 11 passes for 170 yards. Howell threw for three touchdowns, hooking up with Beau Corrales on a 21-yard score in the first quarter.
Howell targeted Corrales on a would-be game-winning route on the final drive of regulation. Jason Pinnock’s break-up forced a field goal to send the game to overtime.
After Pickett’s second touchdown run of the night, a 3-yard run, put the Panthers ahead 34-27 in overtime, North Carolina converted a fourth down to keep its drive alive.
Twyman broke through on a third down to get to Howell, forcing a fourth-and-16 that effectively ended the game. Howell’s last-ditch pass attempt was deflected and fell incomplete.
Twyman made 2.5 sacks. Damarri Mathis intercepted a pass for the Panthers. Pickett finished with 359 yards passing. His one scoring throw went 74 yards to Shocky Jacques-Louis, who finished with a team-high 104 yards receiving.
The two sides put up remarkably similar final numbers, each converting 27 first downs and in yards rushing — 136 yards for North Carolina, 139 yards for Pitt.
North Carolina was penalized seven times for 90 yards, almost double its average coming into Thursday’s contest. The loss was North Carolina’s 15th straight in a game when it trailed by 14 points or more.
–Field Level Media