Did Pitt deserve to beat Wake Forest Saturday night? Probably not. Should Pitt have won? Probably.
Pitt held a late 17-14 lead against the Demon Deacons, and while the Panthers certainly didn’t play a good game, it looked like enough was done to secure a win.
Christian Veilleux took off on a 3rd-and-8 with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, forced out of the pocket and running toward the sideline. He slid down across the line to gain to pick up the first down and keep the clock moving. Pretty much game over.
Well, not so fast.
The officials convened and decided that Veilleux started his slide short of the line to gain and as such, he was short of the line to gain. It resulted in a 4th-and-1 on the Pitt 16.
The more you watch it the worse the call gets.
— Jack Hillgrove (@JackWTOV9) October 21, 2023
Caleb Junko punted the ball away, a poor 32-yard boot, to boot, and Wake Forest needed to drive just 52 yards to walk off with a win. Santino Marucci, in his first career start, hit tight end Cameron Hite six plays later for a 15-yard game-winning touchdown with seven seconds left.
I know it’s a subjective call, determined by where the referee thinks the player begins his slide, but I don’t think it’s a play in which Veilleux began his slide short of the sticks. And I’m not alone.
“I’m sorry,” ACC Network’s EJ Manuel said on a postgame show immediately after the game, “but that’s the worst call I’ve seen.”
Pitt did a whole lot of nothing in the 10 drives between its first 75-yard touchdown and its second, mustering just a 41-yard field goal from Ben Sauls, but that doesn’t change the fact that a subjective call changed the course of the game.
Pitt took a late 17-14 lead off a 22-yard connection between Veilleux and Bub Means, regaining the lead with 1:30 left in the game, and an M.J. Devonshire interception on the ensuing Wake Forest possession gave the ball back to the Panthers.
But, obviously, the final Wake Forest offensive possession resulted in a game-winning drive.