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Pitt scores 31 straight points in win over Wake Forest in ACC championship game

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  • Kenny Pickett
    American football quarterback
  • Sam Hartman
    American football quarterback

Pitt has its first ACC title.

The No. 15 Panthers ripped off 31 consecutive points on the way to a 45-21 win over No. 16 Wake Forest on Saturday night in the ACC championship game. The win is just the third conference title in Pitt history and puts the Panthers on track to play in the Peach Bowl.

Pitt (11-2) took an early 7-0 lead on the Demon Deacons after Kenny Pickett scored a 58-yard rushing TD after faking a slide. It was a phenomenal move.

Wake Forest (10-3) then took a 21-14 lead after the teams scored TDs on the first four possessions of the game. Pitt tied the game in the second quarter and then hit a field goal as time expired before halftime for a 24-21 lead.

The game totally flipped toward Pitt in the second half thanks to the struggles of Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman. After the teams each punted three times each, Erick Hallett made a juggling interception of Hartman. Pitt scored four plays later to take a 31-21 lead.

A.J. Woods intercepted Hartman on the Demon Deacons’ next possession and returned the pass 73 yards all the way to the Wake 3. Three plays later, Pitt led by 17.

At this point, you can guess what happened next. Hallett picked off Hartman on the first play of Wake’s next drive and returned it 19 yards for a pick-six and a 45-21 lead.

Hartman entered the game with 10 interceptions in 12 games. He threw four picks on Saturday night and completed less than 50% of his passes before he was replaced midway through the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

Pickett, meanwhile, was 20-of-33 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 81 career TD passes at Pitt and passed Dan Marino for the most TD throws in school history with his first-quarter TD pass to Rodney Hammond.

Whatever New Year’s Six bowl game Pitt goes to will be the first big bowl for the Panthers since a trip to the Fiesta Bowl after the 2004 season. The conference title is the first for Pitt in 11 years. Pitt last won its conference in 2010 when it was the Big East champion.

Wake Forest, meanwhile, is likely headed to the Holiday Bowl or another upper-tier ACC bowl. A win in a bowl game will give Wake its second 11-win season in school history. The first came in 2006 when the Demon Deacons went 11-3 and went to the Orange Bowl.

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