PITTSBURGH (AP) — Miami freshman Tyler Van Dyke outdueled Heisman Trophy candidate Kenny Pickett, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns as the Hurricanes beat Pickett and No. 17 Pittsburgh 38-34 on Saturday.
Van Dyke completed 31 of 41 passes for the three scores and an interception as Miami (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) defeated a ranked opponent for a second straight week.
Pickett bolstered his Heisman resume by throwing for a school-record 519 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw his second and third interceptions of the season, both of which led to huge momentum shifts.
The first — by Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson in the second quarter — led to a Jaylan Knighton 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Hurricanes a 31-17 halftime lead. The second — by freshman safety James Williams — came with 4:07 to play and Pitt driving for a go-ahead touchdown. Pickett threw behind star wide receiver Jordan Addison and Williams made a diving grab at the Miami 4.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Hurricanes pushed the ball back to the Miami 2. Pitt nearly stuffed Knighton for a safety but the officials ruled Knighton advanced out of the end zone. The call stood upon review and the Hurricanes ran out the clock.
Pitt (6-2, 3-1) remains in control of its destiny in the ACC Coastal Division but any remote shot at crashing the College Football Playoff is long gone.
Van Dyke, coming off a breakout performance in an upset win over North Carolina State last week, wasted little time picking up where he left off. The redshirt freshman led three touchdown drives in the game’s first 10 minutes, including a 20-yard strike to Elijah Arroyo and a 57-yard toss to a wide-open Will Mallory on a reverse flea-flicker.
The Panthers, desperately trying to shed the “same old Pitt” mantle the program has lugged around for the better part of four decades, responded behind their senior quarterback who has mounted a Heisman Trophy campaign that has morphed from unlikely to legitimate in the span of a month.
Facing an inexperienced and injury-plagued Miami secondary, Pickett steadily rallied the Panthers while rewriting the school’s record book in the process.
In the second quarter he surpassed Alex Van Pelt for the most yards of total offense in program history. Pickett’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wayne in the third moved him past Hall of Famer Dan Marino for most touchdowns responsible for with 83.
Pickett pushed the total to 84 and tied the game with a 19-yard scoring pass to Jaylon Bardon midway through the third quarter.
The Hurricanes responded by going 85 yards in eight plays, with Knighton’s second touchdown giving Miami the room it needed to beat the Panthers for a fourth straight time.
Miami: Van Dyke continues to improve by the week. Save for a fourth-quarter interception that doubled as an “arm punt,” Van Dyke was every bit Pickett’s equal. The Hurricanes will need him to continue to light it up while a very young defense searches for an identity.
Pitt: If Pickett finishes the season with numbers that deserve Heisman consideration, it might be due to a defense that remains erratic. A week after handling Clemson, the Panthers gave up 492 yards and looked very much like the unit that allowed 517 yards in a home loss to Western Michigan in September.
The Panthers won’t improve on the program’s highest in-season ranking since 2009 and might need a little help to stay in the polls at all.
Miami: Visits Georgia Tech next Saturday.
Pitt: Travels to Duke next Saturday.
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