Miami used three different quarterbacks on the first three drives of Saturday night’s game, and Pitt only managed to pick off Tyler Van Dyke and Jacurri Brown.
Miami’s John Garcia wasn’t intercepted on his first series leading the offense, but the Pitt defense managed to force another turnover — a SirVocea Dennis strip and Erick Hallett recovery — on Garcia’s third series leading the offense.
It was a pretty good night for Pitt’s defense down in Miami.
It was a pretty good night for Pitt’s offense down in Miami, too.
Kedon Slovis threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns, Israel Abanikanda ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries (C’Bo Flemister added 77 and another touchdown and Rodney Hammond added 56 yards) and Jared Wayne recorded a career-high 199 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The defense forced three Miami turnovers, racked up 10 tackles for loss and six sacks and limited the Hurricanes to just 16 points — most of which came in the fourth quarter.
It was good enough for a 42-16 win over Miami, the first win in Miami since 2014, and Pitt hit the eight win plateau after sitting at 4-4 in October. A win in a bowl game would allow Pitt to hit the nine win plateau for just the second time since 2009.
Dennis helped out the offense by intercepting Van Dyke in the red zone on the first Miami possession, playing himself into the perfect position to pick off Van Dyke as Tylar Wiltz rushed him. Dennis returned the football 67 yards to set up a 19-yard touchdown strike to Jared Wayne.
Javon McIntyre recorded his first career interception on Miami’s second possession, intercepting backup Jacurri Brown’s poorly thrown ball into the secondary. But a goal-line stand from the Miami defense left Pitt pointless.
However, Pitt’s offense didn’t need a turnover to strike again at the end of the first half. After Pitt’s defense held on the ensuing Miami possession, forcing a punt, Wayne struck again. Slovis hit Wayne on a crossing route around midfield, and he raced through the Miami defense for a 66-yard touchdown — the longest passing play of the season.
Hallett’s fumble recovery in the second quarter helped the defense out once again, Dennis’ second impact play of the first half, and Abanikanda made Miami pay for the turnover with an 11-yard touchdown run.
It was Abanikanda’s 20th rushing touchdown of the season, joining just James Conner, Tony Dorsett and LeSean McCoy in doing so.
With a 21-point lead, Pitt coasted through the second quarter, but with a nice play from Miami’s Akheem Mesidor, cutting around Matt Goncalves on the outside and knocking the football out of Slovis’ hand to force an interception, Miami had a chance to cut into the lead.
A failed fake goal attempt resulted from the good field position, and a 13-yard Abanikanda touchdown — untouched for the second time — led to a 28-0 halftime lead.
The start of the second half was a bit tamer than the start of the first half, but a 56-yard run from Miami’s Jaylan Knighton set up the Hurricanes inside the Pitt 5, and four plays later it resulted in a 25-yard field goal from Andres Borregales. Which resulted in a four score lead staying at a four score lead.
Pitt scored on its next offensive possession, a 10-play, 73-yard drive capped off by Wayne’s third touchdown of the night — a quick pass from Slovis for a 7-yard score. Miami answered with a 7-play, 63-yard touchdown drive of its own, a 4-yard touchdown toss to Mallory and a missed two-point conversion, but it was too little, too late.
Pitt and Miami traded touchdowns on the next two possessions, a 26-yard Flemister touchdown run and a 4-yard Xavier Restrepo touchdown catch to keep it a four score game at 42-16.
And Pitt’s defense, with a steady dose of younger players thrust into some live game action, was enough to close out a big win in Miami.
Pitt concludes the 2022 regular season with an 8-4 (5-3 ACC) record, reeling off four straight wins in November to reach the eight-win plateau for the fifth time.
Pitt can reach the nine-win plateau with a win in a soon-to-be-determined bowl game in December.