PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi called his shot.
The Pitt head coach’s team held a 3-point halftime lead when he was asked at the break about his Panthers’ chances of completing the upset against the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes. Narduzzi pulled no punches.
“It happened in West Virginia, when we knocked off No. 2,” he said. “It happened in South Carolina and it’s happening in Pittsburgh today.”
Narduzzi’s words proved prescient as the Panthers went out and played a sparkling second half to finish off the previously unbeaten Hurricanes by a 24-14 margin at Heinz Field.
The Panthers capped their 2017 season with a win, built mostly on the back of a strong defensive performance. Pitt held Miami to 14 points. The Hurricanes’ previous season low was 24 against North Carolina on Oct. 28.
Pitt forced five three-and-outs and held the Hurricanes to 232 total yards. Senior cornerback Avonte Maddox put the cap on the defense’s performance with a sack and forced fumble of Malik Rosier as the Hurricanes attempted a final comeback bid.
Starting at quarterback for the first time in his career, true freshman Kenny Pickett limited mistakes and moved the offense well. His four-yard shovel pass to Qadree Ollison toward the end of the third quarter gave the Panthers a critical two-score lead and he finished 18 of 29 for 193 yards.
Pickett also rushed for 62 yards and a two touchdowns on 14 carries, including a game-sealing 22-yard bootleg on 4th down that gave the Panthers three-score lead late in the fourth quarter.
His favorite target was redshirt senior Jester Weah. In Weah’s final game with Pitt at Heinz Field, he grabbed six balls for 80 yards and his 29-yard catch help set up Ollison’s score.