PITTSBURGH — When Pitt needed a big play, the Panthers turned to Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison.
With Pitt leading by three and under three minutes to play, the Panthers faced a crucial 3rd and six in their own territory. Instead of going conservative, Pitt went for not just the first down, but all of it.
Pickett threw up a ball down the right sideline, Addison out-muscled Darrius Barton, who had initial position on the ball. He came down with it and then scampered for a 62-yard touchdown to give Pitt the final margin of victory in a 48-38 win over Virginia at Heinz Field on Saturday.
The trust in the offensive stars was the theme of the game for Pitt, as Pickett and Addison connected four times for scores, tying a school record. In addition to the crunch-time score, the two connected for two scores on fourth downs.
Pickett finished with 340 yards on 26 of 41 passing. Addison hauled in 14 catches for 202 yards.
With the win, Pitt won its second ACC Coastal Division title, the first team to win it twice since its inception in 2013.
The bulk of the game was a back-and-forth affair with Pickett and Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong trading long touchdown drives.
Big plays turned the tide twice, with Israel Abanikanda returning a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put Pitt up seven. In the third quarter, Pickett was intercepted by Virginia’s Joey Blount and returned into field goal range. That kick after a Pitt defensive stop re-tied the game at 24-24.
The teams traded touchdowns, Pickett’s 34-yarder to Addison on a 4th and 1, and then Keytaon Thompson ran for an 8-yard Virginia score.
After a Sam Scarton 23-yard field goal, the Pitt defense got a rare stop, and a lengthy Pitt drive was capped off by a 1-yard Rodney Hammond score.
It took just two plays for Armstrong to answer, hitting Ra’Shaun Henry for a 39-yard touchdown, but after a Pitt defensive stop, Pickett and Addison linked up for the game-sealing score.
The Panthers will wrap their regular season next Saturday at Syracuse before traveling to Charlotte, N.C. to play in the 2021 ACC Championship Game on Dec. 4 at Bank of America Stadium.