Pickett leads Pitt to 28-7 victory over Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Kenny Pickett threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a score to lead Pittsburgh to a 28-7 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Pickett threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Gavin Bartholomew and 36 yards to Jared Wayne, and he scored on a 3-yard run — all in the first half — as the Panthers (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third straight game. Pittsburgh, which won in Blacksburg for the first time since 2015, moved into sole possession of first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division.

“I think every game is a statement (game),” Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We’re not worried about the crowd or anything else. Just come out and execute and play Pitt football. That’s what we came here to do — play Pitt football. We didn’t care who was out there. We didn’t care what the scoreboard looked like. Just play Pitt football.”

Pickett, arguably the leader for ACC Player of the Year at the season’s halfway point, now has thrown 21 touchdown passes and just one interception. He completed 22 of 37 for 203 yards.

“It feels great,” said Pickett, who won for the first time in three starts in Blacksburg. “I had this one circled for sure. We had probably one of the worst offensive performances two years ago (a 28-0 loss). It meant a lot to everyone to come in here and get a win.”

Israel Abanikanda rushed for a career-high 140 yards for the Panthers, who finished with 411 yards offense.

Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1) finished with a season-low 225 yards. The Hokies’ lone score came on a 2-yard pass from Braxton Burmeister to Tayvion Robinson in the third quarter.

“It’s my job to get us to play as good as we can play – whatever that level is,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “At times, this season, we’ve hit that level. And really at no time today did we hit it. That’s not play-calling, that’s defensive scheme, that’s not special teams, that’s not players — that’s the head coach’s responsibility. I let them down, and I’m disappointed and mad at myself.”