PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett had the best game in the history of Pitt football on Saturday, but it was an uncharacteristic error that sealed the upset victory for Miami in a 38-34 loss to the unranked Hurricanes.
Pickett had already thrown for 519 yards and three touchdowns and was leading the team on what looked to be a game-winning scoring drive late in the fourth quarter when he unleashed a pass over the middle toward an open Jordan Addison inside the five-yard line.
Addison did not appear ready for the pass, which sailed behind him into the arms of Miami safety James Williams for an interception.
The Pitt defense, which yielded 38 points and 492 yards of total offense to a Hurricanes unit led by freshman backup Tyler Van Dyke, had one more chance to get a stop, and came close, as linebacker Phil Campbell III tackled Miami running back Jalyan Knighton near the goal line on the first play after the interception.
The play was reviewed to see if Knighton got out of the end zone, but the play stood as called, with Knighton getting exactly one ball-length out of the end zone.
Pitt got off to a strong start, scoring a touchdown on its opening drive, but the rest of the first quarter belonged to the Hurricanes, who scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives to put the Panthers into a 14-point hole.
The game turned back into Pitt’s favor after getting back-to-back defensive stops in the third quarter and Pickett connecting with Jared Wayne and Jaylon Barton on touchdown passes to tie the score.
But a 13-yard pass from Van Dyke to Keyshawn Smith, two plays after a penalty wiped out a potential Pitt interception, gave the Hurricanes the lead back for good.
Penalties were a consistent theme for the Panthers, who were flagged nine times for 108 yards.
Pitt (6-2, 3-1) suffered its first loss in ACC play. The Panthers remain in first place in the Coastal Division and will visit Duke next week.