PITTSBURGH — Pitt and North Carolina went to overtime because, of course, they did.
In the recent history between the two teams, there has yet to be a simple, quiet easy game, and this one was no different, with the nationally televised Thursday night battle coming down to the wire.
This time, though, Pitt was able to come out on top, with a 34-27 overtime victory, snapping a six-game losing streak against the Tar Heels and keeping their hopes alive in the ACC Coastal Division.
Pitt led by two touchdowns with 14 minutes left in regulation. The Tar Heels then scored two touchdowns in just 5:01 to tie the game. Both scores were passes thrown by freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who threw for three touchdowns on 27-of-43 passing for 322 yards in the game.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was equally as impressive, as he threw for 359 yards on 24-of-41 passing and one passing touchdown. Pickett completed a pass to nine different Panthers receivers. Pitt’s leading receiver Maurice Ffrench didn’t suit up with an injury.
Pickett also ran in two touchdowns, including a three-yard run in overtime that was the eventual game-winner.
Panthers’ sophomore receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis stepped up in Ffrench’s absence with four catches for 104 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown with 9:41 left in the first half. That connection gave Pitt a 10-point lead.
The Panthers were led on the ground by A.J. Davis, who had 17 carries for 54 yards.
Pitt’s defense sacked Howell five times and picked him off once (Damarri Mathis). UNC had 136 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
A lowlight for Pitt on Thursday was when second-leading tackler, Damar Hamlin, was ejected following a targeting penalty on a helmet-to-helmet hit on a UNC receiver right before halftime.
Pitt will travel to Virginia Tech next Saturday, Nov. 23, for their final ACC road game of the season.