Plenty of Pitt fans had to leave Saturday’s game at Heinz Field wondering, “What if Kenny Pickett had gotten one more drive?”
Miami pulled off a 38-34 upset in the Coastal Division matchup, handing the Panthers their first loss in ACC play. But the game didn’t end without controversy. The Hurricanes took over at their own 2-yard line following a Pickett interception with 3:43 remaining in the game. On first-and-10, Miami running back Jaylan Knighton took a handoff deep in his own end zone and appeared to be stopped short of the goal line.
Multiple Pitt defenders believed they had recorded a safety, which would have cut the deficit to two points and given Pickett (519 passing yards, three touchdowns) a chance to lead the Panthers on a go-ahead scoring drive.
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Unfortunately for the Panthers, the officials ruled that Knighton had reached the 1-yard line. The call on the field stood upon further review. Here’s the play in question:
Later in the drive, Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke completed a pass to Will Mallory for the final first down, though that play also added a bit of drama to the contest. Mallory fumbled the ball near the sideline, but it rolled out of bounds ahead of the first-down marker. The Hurricanes were then able to kill the rest of the clock to secure the victory.
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After the game, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi declined to answer a question about the pivotal call. Panthers fans, on the other hand, had no problem voicing their opinions, booing officials as they ran off the field and ripping them on social media.
Like this tweet if you think it was a safety
— Oakland Zoo (@OaklandZoo) October 30, 2021
There is no way in this world that was not a safety Pitt gets homed more than any team in the ACC It should not have come down to that
— Costantino James (@CostantinoJame1) October 30, 2021
I’m still pissed about the safety, the RB even made a football move IN THE DAMN ENDZONE re-established his forward progress. @theACC at the very least needs to give Pitt an apology and ban that officiating crew. But those damn cowards won’t.
— Dustin (@pitt_fan51) October 30, 2021
I can live with losing because Pitt gave up 21 points in the first quarter and Pickett threw 2 ints. I can’t live with losing where the refs took complete control of a game and were the biggest players out there, ultimately undoing a clear safety. @ACCFootball
— Jack Loeffler (@_hi_its_jack) October 30, 2021
Wow. Just wow. Pitt vs the refs, no chance that’s not a safety. Unbelievable🤦🏼♂️
— Josh Feldman (@JoshFeld17) October 30, 2021
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While plenty of Pitt supporters will be focused on the call, they should also be concerned about another poor defensive performance under Narduzzi. The Panthers allowed the Hurricanes to build a 31-17 lead before halftime and got torched by Van Dyke, who finished with 428 passing yards and three touchdowns. Pickett’s ridiculous day should have been enough against a Miami team that entered the game with an overall record of 3-4.
No matter how you look at it, this was not a great day to be a Pitt fan.