PITTSBURGH – After a surprising home loss to Western Michigan a week ago, Pitt got exactly what it needed with a dominant win over New Hampshire on Saturday as the Panthers cruised to a 77-7 victory at Heinz Field as the Pitt offense had a record-setting day.
The Panthers posted a school record for total offensive yardage as they racked up 707 total yards, surpassing the previous record of 654 yards set against Virginia Tech in 2018.
“I think everyone was pretty pissed off and we wanted to come in and get a win convincingly like that,” quarterback Kenny Pickett said.
Pickett impressed against the Wildcats, completing 24 of 28 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns. The five touchdowns give the Pitt signal caller 15 passing touchdowns on the year, surpassing his career-high of 13 which he reached in each of the last two seasons.
Pickett also added a rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak during the first quarter. Coach Pat Narduzzi says the performance from Pickett was expected.
“He's really calm in the pocket, and he didn't take many hits, which we're blessed to make sure our O-line is protecting him well and he's getting rid of the ball,” Narduzzi said. “He's staying in the pocket; he's composed and it's what you expect out of Kenny.”
The senior quarterback shared that the Panthers held a players-only meeting on Sunday after the Western Michigan loss, which he believes helped get everyone on the same page ahead of Saturday’s game.
Cornerback Damarri Mathis called Pickett “a great leader” and said the players-only meeting helped the Panthers be successful on Saturday.
“I just think he brought us closer as a unit and I respect him a lot,” Mathis said.
The team talked about the fine details during the meeting.
“Just cleaning up the little things, things you might not think would get us beat but in reality, that’s what determines ballgames,” Mathis added.
Linebacker Wendell Davis says he feels the team is closer than ever now.
“A game like that can tear a whole team down,” Davis said of the loss to Western Michigan, adding that the loss could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Against New Hampshire, the Panthers’ defense got the ball rolling immediately, as Deslin Alexandre and Habakkuk Baldonado combined to sack Wildcats’ quarterback Bret Edwards on the first play of the game. Two plays later, Phil Campbell III was unblocked and pressured Edwards, who tried to throw the ball away. Edwards was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, and Campbell was credited with a sack, resulting in a safety. Pitt led 2-0 before Pickett and the offense even took the field.
The defense allowed just 160 yards to the Wildcats after allowing 517 in the loss to Western Michigan.
The offense came out hot as the Panthers went on an eight-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in Pickett’s quarterback sneak score.
On the ensuing New Hampshire drive, Pitt cornerback Damarri Mathis picked off Edwards and returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown, for the first pick-six of his career.
Kicker Ben Sauls missed point-after kicks following each of Pitt’s first two touchdowns and Sam Scarton took over extra point duties for the remainder of the day.
Sophomore running back Israel Abanikanda added a 15-yard rushing touchdown and wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass to give Pitt a 28-0 led at the end of the first quarter.
Following a 70-yard run by tailback Carlos Washington Jr. late in the first quarter, Edwards connected with wide receiver Sean Coyne for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter resulting in the Wildcats’ only points.
Pitt’s offense kept humming, with Pickett and sophomore wide receiver Jordan Addison connecting for two scores, the first for 24 yards and the second for 47 yards. The second touchdown saw Addison catch a screen pass and elude multiple defenders en route to the end zone on a highlight-reel play.
“After I broke that second tackle and I spun, I could see the alley across the field, so I just used my speed and trusted my blockers that were on that side,” Addison said.
Pickett hit Taysir Mack in the end zone just before the end of the first half and Pitt took a 49-7 lead into halftime.
Pitt got the ball to begin the second half and Pickett took the field with the offense despite the Panthers’ large lead, but he wasn’t out there for long. The offense needed less than 90 seconds for a four-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown reception by Addison.
Addison led all receivers with 179 yards on six catches and three touchdowns. The sophomore now has eight touchdowns on the season, surpassing last year’s total of four.
Freshman running back Rodney Hammond led Pitt with 100 rushing yards, the first 100-yard rusher of the season, as the Panthers leaned heavily on the run in the second half. Hammond scored three touchdowns in the final two quarters of the game.
“When I get a chance, I just do what I can do. Any opportunity I get, I take advantage of it,” Hammond said after the game.
Abanikanda also made noise, rushing for 75 yards and one touchdown and adding 55 receiving yards on four catches.
Nick Patti took over for Pickett following the opening drive of the second half. Sophomores Davis Beville and Joey Yellen also saw time at quarterback in the fourth quarter.
Narduzzi isn’t taking much away from the win over the No. 21 FCS New Hampshire.
“Nothing gained, nothing lost,” Narduzzi said. “That's what you expect to do, and that's the most impressive thing. I think it's hard to score 77 on air.
“Our guys went out and executed.”
The Panthers will open their conference schedule against Georgia Tech in Atlanta next Saturday with kickoff scheduled for noon.
PITT 77, NEW HAMPSHIRE 7
New Hampshire 0 7 0 0 — 7
Pittsburgh 28 21 21 7 — 77
PITT-Pickett 1 run (kick failed), 11:39.
PITT-Mathis 35 interception return (kick failed), 9:31.
PITT-Abanikanda 15 run (Scarton kick), 5:26.
PITT-Jacques-Louis 12 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), :59.
UNH-Coyne 4 pass from Edwards (Lehane kick), 14:55.
PITT-Addison 24 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 11:17.
PITT-Addison 47 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 8:07.
PITT-T.Mack 7 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), :11.
PITT-Addison 46 pass from Pickett (Scarton kick), 13:44.
PITT-Hammond 4 run (Scarton kick), 6:37.
PITT-Hammond 2 run (Scarton kick), 2:45.
PITT-Hammond 3 run (Scarton kick), 8:48.
First downs 8 35
Total Net Yards 160 707
Rushes-yards 29-100 49-252
Passing 60 455
Punt Returns 1-3 4-21
Kickoff Returns 5-71 2-21
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-35
Comp-Att-Int 10-24-1 29-33-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-36 2-13
Punts 8-42.875 3-47.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 2-10 5-57
Time of Possession 27:16 32:41
RUSHING-New Hampshire: Washington Jr. 9-91, Seide 7-37, Post 3-8, Laube 6-3, Herion 1-(minus 3), Edwards 3-(minus 36). Pitt: Hammond 17-100, Abanikanda 13-75, V.Davis 7-50, Carter 2-11, T.Mack 1-8, Pickett 5-6, Sibley 3-5, Jacques-Louis 1-(minus 3).
PASSING-New Hampshire: Edwards 9-20-1-42, Herion 1-4-0-18. Pitt: Pickett 24-28-0-403, Patti 4-4-0-39, Beville 1-1-0-13.
RECEIVING-New Hampshire: Helm 2-24, Laube 2-1, Turner 1-18, Lepkowski 1-8, Lorden 1-6, Coyne 1-4, Deese 1-1, Washington Jr. 1-(minus 2). Pitt: Addison 6-179, Abanikanda 4-55, Jacques-Louis 4-50, Bartholomew 3-48, Barden 3-33, T.Mack 2-26, Krull 2-21, Bradley 1-16, Stovall 1-11, Tipton 1-6, J.Vardzel 1-6, Hammond 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.