Sep 25, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  New Hampshire Wildcats quarterback Bret Edwards (17) scrambles with the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Deslin Alexandre (5) chases during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett fuels Pitt’s record-setting rout of New Hampshire

Kenny Pickett threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns and Pittsburgh set a school record with 707 yards of offense in a 77-7 rout of visiting New Hampshire in a nonconference game on Saturday.

Pickett completed 24 of 28 passes for the Panthers (3-1), while Jordan Addison had six receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Rodney Hammond Jr. rushed for 100 yards and three scores and Israel Abanikanda ran for 75 yards and one score. Pitt’s previous record was 654 yards against Virginia Tech in 2018.

The FCS member Wildcats (3-1) were held to just eight first downs and 160 total yards by the Panthers, who jumped out to a 28-0 first-quarter lead.

After Pitt scored a safety on New Hampshire’s opening series, Pickett capped an eight-play, 77-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 8-0 before Ben Sauls missed the extra-point attempt.

Pittsburgh’s defense extended the lead when Damarri Mathis stepped in front of Bret Edwards’ pass and returned it 35 yards for a 14-0 lead before Sauls missed a second straight PAT.

Abanikanda’s 15-yard run capped a seven-play, 61-yard drive for a 21-0 lead after Sam Scarton made the extra point.

The Panthers pushed their lead to 28-0 in the final minute of the opening quarter when Shocky Jacques-Louis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Pickett.

The Wildcats got on the scoreboard on their next drive on Edwards’ 4-yard touchdown pass to Sean Coyne just five seconds into the second quarter.

The Panthers made it 35-7 on Pickett’s 24-yard strike to Jordan Addison with 11:17 left in the half. Three minutes later, Pickett and Addison connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass for a 42-7 lead.

Pickett extended the lead to 49-7 with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Taysir Mack with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.

Addison found the end zone for the third time when he caught a 46-yard pass from Pickett less than two minutes into the third quarter for a 56-7 lead.

Beckett was then replaced by Nick Patti, who led the Panthers to three touchdown drives that were all capped by runs by Hammond.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) warms up before the game against the Western Michigan Broncos at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett, Pitt look to right ship vs. New Hampshire

Pittsburgh aims to pick itself up following last week’s letdown when it hosts FCS member New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon.

The clash against the Wildcats at Heinz Field serves as the last tune-up for the Panthers (2-1) before they play eight straight games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

Offense hasn’t been the problem for Pittsburgh, which eclipsed 40 points in three consecutive games to start the season for the first time in the history of the program.

Kenny Pickett threw for 382 yards and a career-best six touchdowns in the Panthers’ 44-41 setback to Mid-American Conference opponent Western Michigan last Saturday.

Pickett moved past Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino into second place on Pittsburgh’s all-time passing yardage list. His 8,923 yards trail only career leader Alex Van Pelt (11,267 in 1989-92).

Jordan Addison reeled in a career-best three scoring strikes and finished with six catches for 124 yards last Saturday. Tight end Lucas Krull found the end zone twice to double his touchdown total on the season.

“My eye test tells you the receivers are pretty good and Kenny Pickett’s pretty good. I want to run the ball better,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said.

Pickett leads the team with just 115 net rushing yards on the season.

As for the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered 517 total yards last Saturday and saw the Broncos hold the ball for 40 minutes, 15 seconds.

“Everybody looks at the yardage and all that stuff and again, it’s stats, and I always say stats are for losers, but pull the stat together yards per minute you’re on the field, OK?” Narduzzi said. “Pull up our offense per play on the field. Defense was on the field for over 40 minutes. I mean, two thirds of the game they’re on the field.”

Bret Edwards tossed two touchdown passes to Brian Espanet to lead New Hampshire (3-0) to a 19-13 win over Lafayette last Saturday.

“They’ve got a good feel for each other,” Wildcats coach Sean McDonnell said of Edwards and Espanet, who have teamed up on four touchdowns this season. “Brian’s done that his whole career here. … He has great hands and he’s got a good feel for trying to find spots in the end zone.”

Espanet’s totals in catches (13) and receiving yards (171) trail only those of Sean Coyne (16, 189) for the team lead.

Two former New Hampshire assistant coaches are now coordinators with Pittsburgh. Mark Whipple is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Randy Bates is the defensive coordinator.

–Field Level Media