The Miami Hurricanes did just enough in the second half on Saturday afternoon to upset No.17 Pittsburgh on the road at Heinz Field.
The Hurricanes jumped out to a 14-point lead on two different occasions in the first half and got a massive interception late from true freshman safety James Williams to hang on to defeat the Panthers 38-34.
The victory keeps Miami (4-4, 2-2) alive in the ACC Coastal race and deals Pittsburgh (6-2, 3-1) its first ACC loss.
Miami wins back-to-back games over ranked opponents for the first time since 2017 when the Hurricanes defeated Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks.— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) October 30, 2021
Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke passed for 428 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the victory for Miami. On the other side, fifth-year senior Kenny Pickett passed for 519 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions for Pittsburgh in the losing effort.
The Panthers outgained the Hurricanes 587-492 but the late turnover proved to be too much to overcome for the home team.
Miami fell behind early in the first quarter 7-0 but responded in a massive way with three consecutive touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead midway through the first.
Van Dyke connected with true freshman tight end Elijah Arroyo on a 20-yard score to tie the score at seven with 11 minutes left in the first and then with fellow tight end Will Mallory on a 57-yard touchdown pitch and catch with 9:10 left in the first to give Miami a 14-7 lead.
On Miami’s next drive, Knighton broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run and the Canes led 21-7 with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
After a Pittsburgh field goal, Pickett connected with Israel Abanikanda on a 20-yard touchdown through the air to trim the Panther deficit to 21-17 early in the second.
Miami would respond again however with an Andres Borregales 26-yard field goal followed by Knighton’s second touchdown run of the game—this time on a play where he flew over the line of scrimmage and extended the ball over the goal line.
The Hurricanes led 31-17 at halftime despite being outgained by the Panthers 348-317 in the first half and allowing Pickett to pass for 307 yards in two quarters.
The Panthers cut the Hurricane lead to seven early in the third quarter. After Jaylon Barden returned a Lou Hedley punt 32 yards, Pittsburgh began its drive at the Miami 27-yard line and got little resistance from the Miami defense on its way to 24 points. Pickett connected with Jared Wayne on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 12 minutes left in the third to make the score 31-24.
After Pickett found Barden for a 13-yard touchdown that tied the game, Miami struck right back. Van Dyke found Keyshawn Smith for an acrobatic 13-yard touchdown with 2:55 in the third quarter that put Miami back in the lead for good at 38-31. The Hurricanes held that same lead entering the fourth quarter.
After Smith’s touchdown, Pittsburgh drove 50 yards in 11 plays but the Hurricanes held at the goal line after the Panthers tried a trick play on third down. Pittsburgh settled for a Sam Scarton 23-yard field goal that trimmed the lead to 38-34 early in the fourth.
The teams traded 3-and-outs before Miami faced a key third down in Pittsburgh territory with under eight minutes left to play. Both Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley fell down on the play and Van Dyke’s pass was intercepted deep in Hurricane territory by Panther defensive back John Petrishen. That gave Pittsburgh the ball on its own 5-yard line with 7:05 play trailing by four.
Seven plays later, Williams returned the favor as he intercepted a pass at the Pittsburgh 2-yard line with just over four minutes to play. On the ensuing play, Knighton was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on a play that went to an official’s review to see if could be overturned for a safety. It was not, which angered the Heinz Field crowd.
On the next play, Van Dyke connected with Rambo on an 18-yard pass to give the Hurricanes some breathing room. Two plays later and facing a 3rd-and-4, Van Dyke connected with Mallory on a play action pass, but Mallory fumbled and the officials ruled that the ball rolled behind the first down marker and that Miami would face a fourth down.
After video review. the officials decided re-spotted the ball and brought the chains out to measure. Miami got the first down after measurement and was able to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
Rambo finished the game with seven receptions for 101 yards. Knighton finished with 80 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Hurricanes. Xavier Restrepo, Mallory, Smith, and Harley all had 50+ receiving yards for the Hurricanes in the victory.
Pittsburgh’s Jordan Addison led all receivers with 145 receiving yards on eight catches.