V’Lique Carter and Qadree Ollison were nearly unstoppable for Pittsburgh on Saturday. The same went for Duke’s Daniel Jones and Deon Jackson.
On a day when points and yards were easy to come by, Pitt struck the final blow in a wild ACC football game at Heinz Field.
Kenny Pickett’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Ffrench with five seconds left lifted Pittsburgh to a 54-45 win over Duke.
The touchdown broke a 45-45 tie. Pitt added two points on a safety when Duke’s lateral on the desperation kick return play went out of the end zone.
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Pittsburgh (4-4, 3-1 in ACC) amassed 634 yards of offense, including 484 rushing yards. Ollison (149 yards) and Carter (131 yards) led the Panthers rushing attack.
Duke (5-3, 1-3 in ACC) answered with 619 yards as Jackson rushed for 162 yards. Jones threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns for the Blue Devils, who had leads of 11 and 10 points in the third quarter. Jackson set a Duke single-game record with 403 all-purpose yards.
But, after Duke took a 45-42 lead on Collin Wareham’s 25-yard field goal with 8:07 to play, the Panthers tied it at 45 on Alex Kessman’s third field goal of the game, this one from 48 yards out with 2:33 to play.
Duke reached the 49 on its final possession but had to punt. Pitt took over at its 18 with just 1:14 to play and marched 82 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Duke reached Pittsburgh territory on all five of its first-half possessions, scoring three touchdowns to lead 21-17 at intermission.
After Pittsburgh marched 68 yards to score after the opening kickoff, Duke responded with an impressive drive of its own to tie the score at 7-7.
The Blue Devils moved 62 yards, converting on fourth down along the way when Jones completed a 6-yard pass to T.J. Rahming to the Pittsburgh 33.
After Jones ran 17 yards to the Pittsburgh 6, Quentin Harris’ 6-yard touchdown run got Duke on the scoreboard.
The Blue Devils reached the Pitt 24 on their second drive. Butt three consecutive incomplete passes, including a double-reverse flea flicker pass from Jones that went through tight end Daniel Helm’s hands in the end zone, turned the ball over to Pitt on downs.
Jones completed three of four pass attempts on Duke’s third drive. His 19-yard pass to Rahming on third-and-10 from the Pitt 24 moved Duke to the Panthers 5.
Jones fired a 3-yard touchdown pass to Rahming giving Duke a 14-7 lead with 11:41 left in the first half.
Michael Ffrench’s 62-yard run on a sweep around the right side of the line set the Panthers up at the Duke 7. The Blue Devils defense held though, thanks to a Joe Giles-Harris stop for no gain and Dylan Singleton’s tackle for a 2-yard loss.
Pitt settled for a 27-yard Alex Kessman field goal to cut Duke’s lead to 14-10.
Jackson’s 60-yard run moved Duke to the Pitt 12 on the first play of Duke’s next possession. Jones hooked up with Rahming for another touchdown pass, this one a 4-yard play, giving Duke a 21-10 lead.
Pitt needed just three plays to answer as Pickett tossed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ffrench leaving Duke with a 21-17 lead.
The Blue Devils missed a chance to add to their lead late in the first half. Jones completed an 18-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Jake Bobo over the middle and a 19-yard strike along the sideline to Chris Taylor.
From the Pittsburgh 24, Jones completed passes to Jackson and Johnathan Lloyd to the Pitt 11.
But with 37 seconds left in the half, Jones fumbled while cocking his arm back to pass. Pitt’s Dewayne Hendrix recovered to kill an excellent Duke scoring chance.
Both teams scored on each of their third-quarter possessions with Duke holding a 42-35 lead entering the fourth quarter. Alex Kessman kicked a 54-yard field goal in the quarter for Pitt.