SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On a night where Syracuse was hoping to earn their sixth win and a bowl berth, it was Pittsburgh, a team with not much to play for Saturday night, who found the drive to win.
Kenny Pickett tossed for 209 yards, 4 touchdowns and tied Dan Marino’s career passing touchdown record as the no. 17 Panthers defeated SU 31-14.
With the loss, Syracuse finishes the season 5-7. Which makes it the fifth-time-in-the-last-six-seasons SU has failed to go bowling under Dino Babers.
The opening drive was as methodical as it was surprising. Garrett Shrader went 6-6 on his passes as Syracuse marched down the field, converted a 4th down, and capped it off with a 3rd and 8 conversion on a 12-yard pass to Courtney Jackson. The drive lasted nearly 7:30 minutes.
That score would hold until 7:25 of the second quarter, when Kenny Pickett would find his first of two touchdown tosses in the quarter. He first found the hands of Rodney Hammond, Jr for a 15-yard TD. His second was to Jordan Addison from 25-yards out, and not only did it give the Panthers the lead, but it gave Pickett the program’s single season TD passing record – breaking Dan Marino’s record of 37.
Pitt did a good job of bottling up Sean Tucker in the first half. The single season rushing king for the Orange only had ten carries for 21 yards as SU trailed Pitt 14-7 at halftime.
The second half started with Pickett once again leading a touchdown drive. The Panthers marched down the field on a nine-play, 65-yard drive and Pickett found Gavin Bartholomew for a 4-yd touchdown – his third touchdown of the game to three different receivers.
After Pickett and Addison connected for another TD, Shrader found Jackson for their second TD of the game late in the third quarter, ending a run of 28 straight points for the Panthers.
Besides the two touchdown drives, Syracuse had a difficult time getting passed the Panthers defense. Pitt had 10 tackles for loss, five of them sacks and held SU to 242 yards on the night.
Shrader closed the season with 217 yards through air vs. Pitt and those two TDs. Tucker had his worst statistical game of the season, only rushing for 29 yards on 13 carries.