PITTSBURGH — Pitt has needed to rely on its defense throughout the 2019 season, but an anemic Panthers offense put more on the defensive squad than it could handle on Saturday, as the Panthers never found the end zone in a 16-12 loss to Miami at Heinz Field.
Pitt’s offense turned the ball over three times, couldn’t score a touchdown on three trips inside the 20-yard line and couldn’t earn a game-sealing first down in the fourth quarter.
Given chance after chance, Miami’s offense finally broke through with a 32-yard completion from backup quarterback Jarren Williams to K.J. Osborn that gave the Hurricanes the final margin of victory.
The Panthers’ only offense came from the leg of Alex Kessman, who converted from 54 yards on the opening drive of the game and then three chip shots of 29, 29 and 25 yards, as Pitt couldn’t complete drives in the red zone.
The most crucial one came on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. Pitt started with the ball at its own 25 and drove all the way down to the Miami 7-yard line, mostly with the running game, with Todd Sibley and V’Lique Carter both picking up big gains.
But A.J. Davis was stuffed on third and goal from the 1-yard line, and Narduzzi opted to kick to give his team a 12-10 lead.
Pitt got the ball back after a Miami three-and-out, but three straight Davis carries up the middle netted just six yards and the Panthers punted the ball back to Miami with four minutes to play, setting up Williams’ late go-ahead scoring drive.
Sibley led all Pitt rushers with 54 yards on four carries, working exclusively out of the Wildcat formation, but he was injured on Pitt’s first fourth-quarter drive and did not return. Carter had 11 carries for 47 yards and Davis finished with 45 yards on 15 carries.
The passing game was stunted both by the decision-making of Pickett, who had two first-half interceptions on ill-advised passes, and his receivers’ inability to hang on to the ball. Pitt had at several crucial drops, including two on their last-gasp drive when they got the ball back after Miami’s touchdown with 58 seconds on the clock. Pickett finished 18 of 32 for 146 yards.
The Panthers will go on the road next week to visit Georgia Tech. That game will kick off at 4 p.m.