Kenny Pickett passed for 285 yards and two touchdowns and also added a rushing score to lead Pittsburgh to a 41-34 nonconference victory over Tennessee on Saturday in the Johnny Majors Classic at Knoxville, Tenn.
Receiver Jared Wayne threw a touchdown pass on a trick play for the Panthers (2-0). Pickett completed 24 of 36 passes and Brandon Hill collected a key interception.
Hendon Hooker completed 15 of 21 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Volunteers (1-1). Starter Joe Milton III left in the second quarter with a leg injury after being sacked by Pitt’s Keyshon Camp. Milton completed 7 of 12 passes for 50 yards.
The game was scheduled in tribute to Johnny Majors, the College Football Hall of Famer who died in June 2020 at age 85. Majors was an All-American running back at Tennessee who later coached 16 seasons at the school, and he also coached Tony Dorsett-led Pitt to the 1976 national championship.
The Panthers racked up five sacks and held a 397-374 edge in total offense.
Pitt held a 34-20 lead after Pickett scored on a quarterback sneak from inside the 1-yard line with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter. Tennessee moved back within seven on Hooker’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Warren with 2:32 left.
Pitt pushed the advantage back to 14 when Pickett hit Jordan Addison on a 5-yard scoring pass with 12:22 remaining in the contest. Jaylen Wright scored from the 1 just more than two minutes later as the Volunteers crept within seven.
However, Wright was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Panthers’ 3 with 6:59 left. A short time later, the Volunteers were at the Pitt 34 but Hooker was intercepted by Hill and Pitt took over with 4:52 left.
The Panthers collected two first downs to close out the victory.
Pitt scored 27 second-quarter points en route to holding a 27-20 halftime lead.
Christian Charles blocked a punt to set up Jabari Small’s 2-yard run with 13:34 left in the opening quarter and Chase McGrath kicked a 37-yard field goal as Tennessee took a 10-0 advantage.
Pickett tossed an 11-yard scoring pass to Melquise Stovall to start the Panthers’ second-quarter splurge. McGrath kicked a 48-yard field goal for the Volunteers, but Pittsburgh executed a double pass with Wayne connecting on a 16-yard score to Lucas Krull to give Pitt a 14-13 edge with 9:25 left.
Sam Scarton tacked on field goals of 38 and 27 yards to give the Panthers a seven-point edge before Jimmy Calloway turned Hooker’s short pass into a 44-yard touchdown to tie it at 20 with 2:16 left.
Vincent Davis scored from the 2 with 19 seconds left to give Pitt the seven-point lead at the break.
–Field Level Media
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