EditorsNote: tweaks headline, clarifies stat at end of fifth graf
Kenny Pickett passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns to help Pittsburgh record a 27-20 victory over host Syracuse in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Friday night.
Maurice Ffrench and Aaron Mathews caught touchdown passes, and A.J. Davis rushed for 103 yards and a score as the Panthers (5-2, 2-1 ACC) won their fourth consecutive game. The Pittsburgh defense racked up nine sacks to raise its season total to 36 and limited the Orange to 5 of 18 on third-down conversions.
Tommy DeVito completed 11 of 23 passes for 101 yards before exiting for Syracuse (3-4, 0-3). Clayton Welch completed 8 of 20 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
Pickett finished 18 of 33 for the Panthers, who had a 377-328 edge in total offense while beating the Orange for the 15th time in the past 18 meetings.
DeVito departed three minutes into the third quarter after absorbing a hard hit, and Welch entered on third-and-9. Welch etched his name into school history by tossing a 94-yard scoring pass to Taj Harris, who caught the ball around his own 30 and navigated down the left sideline to complete a play that matched the second-longest scoring pass in program history.
That play pulled the Orange with 24-13 with 11:12 left in the third quarter, and that score remained until Pitt's Alex Kessman kicked a 34-yard field to make it a 14-point margin with 7:03 left in the contest.
Syracuse pulled within 27-20 when Welch threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Aaron Hackett with 2:44 left, but Pitt ran out the clock.
Pickett passed for 189 yards and two touchdowns and the Panthers racked up six sacks while building a 24-6 halftime advantage.
After the teams traded first-quarter field goals, Pittsburgh resorted to trickery on Pickett's 43-yard touchdown pass to Mathews to take a 10-3 lead with 1:23 left in the quarter.
Pickett tossed the ball to Davis, who threw a slightly backward pass to his left from the Syracuse 49-yard line that Pickett caught at midfield and then connected with a wide-open Pickett for the score.
Officials initially ruled Davis' throw was an illegal forward pass, but the booth review that follows scoring plays correctly overturned the call and awarded the Panthers the touchdown.
Andre Szmyt kicked a 20-yard field goal with 12:03 left in the half to pull the Orange within 10-6, but Davis scored on a 5-yard run to give Pitt an 11-point lead with 4:53 remaining. The Panthers later drove 85 yards on 10 plays with Pickett throwing a 14-yard scoring pass to Ffrench with 23 seconds remaining before the break.
--Field Level Media