ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the last few years, Pitt has gained a reputation as an upset artist when facing to programs.
Against the No. 13 Central Florida Knights on Saturday, that upset magic seemed very far in the past. The Panthers were dominated on both side of the ball and were beaten, 45-14, to fall to 2-3 on the season.
Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback McKenzie Milton rushed for two touchdowns and threw for four more as the UCF offense totally out-classed Pitt’s defense. Milton finished with 328 yards on 18 of 34 passing. His scoring throws went to four different players: wide receiver Gabriel Davis (four catches, 80 yards), tight end Michael Colubiale (two catches, 13 yards), running back Adrian Killins (three catches, 140 yards) and all-purpose back Otis Anderson (four catches, 29 yards).
The Knights scored on four of their first six possessions and took a 31-7 lead into the half that was only interrupted by Rafael Araujo-Lopes’ 86-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Pitt’s offense did finally get on the board late in the 4th quarter, when Maurice Ffrench took a forward toss from Kenny Pickett and scampered 58 yards for the score. It was Ffrench’s second touchdown in as many weeks, and he has scored both of Pitt’s second-half scores this season.
The rest of Pitt’s offense was anemic. Outside of the Ffrench run, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett had 110 yards on 15 of 25 passing and threw one interception.
Pitt’s running game did fine on a per-carry basis, with Qadree Ollison gaining 49 yards on 11 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and Darrin Hall getting 44 yards on seven rushes. But the large deficit forced the Panthers to throw more often than usual.
Pitt will return to conference play next Saturday when the Panthers host the Syracuse Orange at Heinz Field. That game has a 12:20 p.m. kickoff.