PITTSBURGH — Pitt’s mistakes finally caught up with them.
The Panthers entered Saturday’s game against NC State with a three-game winning streak, despite a number of penalties, drops and other unforced errors, but exited with a 30-29 loss thanks to those same mistakes.
In the final minutes against the Wolfpack, Pitt wide receiver Taysir Mack dropped a sure two-point conversion and the Panthers defensive committing holding, giving the Wolfpack a crucial first down near the goal line.
NC State quarterback Devin Leary hit wide receiver Emeka Emezie in the corner of the end zone for his second score of the day with 23 seconds left, finally capitalizing on Pitt’s mistakes. Pitt was penalized 13 times for 125 yards in the contest.
The Panthers fell into a two-score hole early, before Kenny Pickett led them back with a pair of second-half quarterback sneak touchdowns.
Pickett did it all for the Pitt offense, throwing for 411 yards on 22 of 39 passing and a touchdown — a 75-yard strike to a wide-open Jordan Addison on the game’s second play.
With Pitt’s running game smothered by the NC State defense, Pickett also led all Pitt ballcarriers, with 40 yards on 15 carries and two scores.
His first came after his completion to DJ Turner set Pitt up with its second first-and-goal situation of the quarter. The first time, Pitt foundered, failing to gain any yardage on four tries at a score.
The second time, Pickett picked up the final yard. In the fourth quarter, he did the same on a 4th and 1 to keep Pitt’s drive going and then once more at the goal line, thanks to a huge push from behind by fullback Jake Zilinskas.
Turner was Pickett’s most favored target in the passing game, hauling in eight catches for 186 yards, both career highs for the graduate transfer from Maryland.
The Wolfpack scored on three straight possessions to start the game, building a 17-7 lead, with Cary Angeline and Emezie hauling in passes from Leary.
Angeline scored again in the fourth quarter to put NC State ahead before Pickett’s second score.
Leary finished with 336 yards and four touchdowns on 28 of 44 passing.
Pitt’s pass rush was stymied for most of the day. The Panthers entered the game with 17 sacks, but were able to put Leary on the ground just twice.
The No. 24 Panthers will now go on the road for the first time this season, with a trip to Boston College on Saturday. That game will kick off at 4 p.m.