NCAAF Game Recap - Central Florida at Pittsburgh
Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:30 PM EDT

Char
10
Clem
52
F
SMiss
7
Ala
49
F
ND
17
UGA
23
F
LSU
66
Vand
38
F
MiaOH
5
OHSt
76
F
Aub
28
TxAM
20
F
Tenn
3
Fla
34
F
Utah
23
USC
30
F
Mich
14
Wisc
35
F
OkSt
30
Tex
36
F
UCF
34
Pitt
35
F
Oreg
21
Stan
6
F
UCLA
67
WaSt
63
F
AF
19
Boise
30
F
OD
17
UVA
28
F
Wash
45
BYU
19
F
Cal
28
Miss
20
F
Colo
34
AzSt
31
F
SMU
41
TCU
38
F
Hou
31
Tul
38
F
FLInt
31
LaTec
43
F
MSU
31
NW
10
F
ULMon
20
IASt
72
F
Elon
7
Wake
49
F
WestMI
33
Syr
52
F
BC
30
Rut
16
F
UConn
3
Ind
38
F
Mor
21
Army
52
F
CoCar
62
UMass
28
F
ULLaf
45
Ohio
25
F
CenCt
29
E Mi
34
F
Troy
35
Akr
7
F
BGSU
20
Kent
62
F
SoAl
3
UAB
35
F
Wyo
21
Tuls
24
F
App
34
UNC
31
F
Lou
24
FlaSt
35
F
Temp
22
Buff
38
F
SCar
14
Mizzu
34
F
KY
13
MisSt
28
F
C Mi
12
MiaFL
17
F
NMSt
52
NM
55
F
WVU
29
Kans
24
F
W&M
7
ECU
19
F
Hamp
27
Lib
62
F
Wagn
7
FlAtl
42
F
GASt
34
TxSt
37
F(2OT)
SIU
28
ArkSt
41
F
Bayl
21
Rice
13
F
Ball
23
NCSt
34
F
UTSA
3
NorTx
45
F
SJSU
31
Ark
24
F
Nev
37
UTEP
21
F
Neb
42
Ill
38
F
SacSt
20
Fres
34
F
Toled
41
ColSt
35
F
UtSt
23
SDSU
17
F
C Ark
16
Hawaii
35
F

Sep 21, 2019, 3:30 PM EDT

Final

1

2

3

4

T

(15) Central Florida (3-1)

0

10

21

3

34

Pittsburgh (2-2)

7

14

7

7

35

Trick play helps Pitt upset No. 15 UCF 35-34
Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:46 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mark Whipple installed the play he dubbed "Pitt Special" during the second week of training camp.

Whipple had his first-stringers run it once against the starting defense and it worked. So he made sure the Panthers practiced it during Thursday walkthroughs and tucked it in his back pocket just in case.

Just in case arrived late Saturday afternoon with Pitt trailing 15th-ranked UCF by six and a minute to go. Facing fourth-and-2 at the UCF 3, an official came over and told Whipple the Panthers could still get a first down if they got to the 1.

"Nah, we're going to score," Whipple said.

In way that could prove to be the turning point in Pitt's season. UCF's, too.

Running back A.J. Davis took a direct snap from center, ran to his left and flipped the ball to Aaron Mathews, who was heading right. Matthews, a former high school quarterback, thought he might have to make a run at the pylon. When two UCF defenders closed in, Mathews pulled up and found quarterback Kenny Pickett in the end zone, giving the Panthers a euphoric 35-34 victory.

"Kenny claims he has the best hands on the team," Mathews said with a smile. "He's one for one."

One very big one.

On a day Pickett threw for 224 yards and a score and added 61 on the ground despite exiting for a couple of series late in the third quarter after bruising his right (throwing) shoulder, his heady decision to find a spot in the UCF zone defense and wait for the ball ended UCF's 25-game regular-season winning streak.

UCF had won 27 of its last 28 overall, including the Knights' American Athletic Conference championship game victories the last two years along with their Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU last year.

The play borrowed heavily from the "Philly Special" run by the Philadelphia Eagles in their Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots two seasons ago. The Panthers put their own spin on it. While Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was wide open in the end zone, Pickett's job was more complicated. He faked a block and then turned into a tight end while waiting for Mathews to find him.

"We were all pumped up about (the call)," Pickett said. "I know Aaron was. I have a touchdown catch before him. He was a little (ticked) off about that. We switched roles for a play."

KNIGHTS STOPPED

UCF (3-1), which hadn't lost since a non-bowl game or conference championship game since falling to South Florida in November 2016, had one last-gasp drive but went nowhere. The Panthers sacked true freshman quarterback Gabriel Dillon twice to deal the Knights' shot of earning a spot in a New Year's Six bowl as the nation's top Group of Five team a serious blow.

"I just think that we did some things - coaches and players - that you can't do on the road if you want to beat a good football team," UCF coach Josh Heupel said. "This one is going to hurt for a while, but we'll get back on Monday and get back after it."

Dillon passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns but also threw his first two interceptions of the season. Gabriel Davis hauled in 10 passe for 151 yards and two scores, but the Knights' high-tempo offense didn't run as efficiently as it had during three blowouts to start the year.

UCF finished with 423 yards, 180 under its season average. Dillon was sacked six times in all and the Knights were unable to finish off Pitt despite a 31-point outburst spanning the second and third quarters that turned a 21-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

"Give credit to Pitt," Heupel said. "They played a good game and found a way to be plus-one on the scoreboard. I'm proud of the way our kids competed and played."

Trailing by three touchdowns for the first time since a blowout loss to Michigan in 2016, UCF responded emphatically, with a little help from the Panthers.

Davis fumbled deep in Panther territory with 5:41 left in the first half. Adrian Killins scored four plays later and UCF was off and running. Gabriel found Gabe Davis for two third-quarter touchdowns sandwiched around an 87-yard punt return for a score by Otis Anderson, who broke several tackles while racing down the left sideline to the end zone.

Yet Pitt rallied. The Panthers were coming off an emotional seven-point loss to rival Penn State last week, a defeat in which head coach Pat Narduzzi took significant heat for opting to kick a field goal deep in Penn State territory in the final minutes instead of trying to go for a game-tying score.

Backup quarterback Nick Patti threw his first touchdown while Pickett tested out his injured shoulder and when the defense forced UCF to settle for a field goal with 4:36 left to keep the game within reach, Pickett guided Pitt 79 yards in 12 plays, the last three coming on a reception that UCF didn't see coming.

"You guys always want me to go for it on fourth down," Narduzzi said. "We may never punt again ... That's a big-time victory."

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Expect UCF to fall behind No. 20 Boise State in the polls and lose the inside track on being the Group of Five representative in a New Year's Six bowl.

THE TAKEAWAY

UCF: Gabriel should have a stranglehold on the starting job even with Darriel Mack Jr. on the way back from an ankle injury suffered in July. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush figures to be out of the picture completely. He played just one snap, getting tackled for a loss in the first quarter.

Pitt: The Panthers face an uphill climb in the ACC's Coastal Division after opening the season with a loss to No. 21 Virginia, but Pitt could be a handful once conference play starts in earnest next month. The secondary plays with swagger and Pickett is becoming more comfortable by the week in Whipple's system.

UP NEXT

UCF: Hosts UConn in its American Athletic Conference opener next Saturday night.

Pitt: Finishes up nonconference play by hosting Football Championship Subdivision opponent Delaware next Saturday.

---

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Passing

UCF Att Cmp % TD-Pa Yds-Pa LgPa Int Rat
D. Gabriel 42 25 59.5 2 338 65 2 81.3
Pitt Att Cmp % TD-Pa Yds-Pa LgPa Int Rat
K. Pickett 47 25 53.2 1 224 24 0 73.4
N. Patti 3 2 66.7 1 16 10 0 119.4

Rushing

UCF Att Yds-Ru Avg LgRu TD-Ru
A. Killins Jr. 8 46 5.8 36 1
G. McCrae 13 40 3.1 10 0
Pitt Att Yds-Ru Avg LgRu TD-Ru
A. Davis 13 65 5.0 8 1
K. Pickett 12 61 5.1 17 0

Receiving

UCF Rec Yds-Rc Avg LgRc TD-Rc
G. Davis 10 151 15.1 65 2
T. Nixon 7 136 19.4 50 0
Pitt Rec Yds-Rc Avg LgRc TD-Rc
T. Mack 6 87 14.5 22 0
M. Ffrench 7 50 7.1 12 1

Fumbles

UCF F FL
D. Gabriel 1 0
Pitt F FL
A. Davis 1 1
K. Pickett 1 0

Returning

UCF KR Avg KRTD LgKR PR Avg TD LgPR
A. Killins Jr. 1 26.0 0 26 0 - 0 0
O. Anderson 0 - 0 0 1 87.0 1 87
Pitt KR Avg KRTD LgKR PR Avg TD LgPR
M. Ffrench 2 21.5 0 22 2 4.5 0 12
T. Sibley Jr. 1 20.0 0 20 0 - 0 0

Punting

UCF Punt Yds Avg LgPu
A. Osteen 5 267 53.4 71
Pitt Punt Yds Avg LgPu
K. Christodoulou 7 317 45.3 56

Takeaways

Pitt Int Yds InTD
P. Campbell III 1 13 0
J. Pinnock 1 0 0

Team Stats Comparison

UCF Pitt
Points For 34 35
Total Yards 423 439
Rushing Yards 85 196
Passing Yards 338 243
Passing Completions / Attempts 25/42 28/51
Turnovers 2 1
Interceptions Thrown 2 0
Fumbles - Lost 1/0 2/1
First Downs 20 30
Penalties - Yards 7/74 8/95
Time Of Possession 18:18 42:42
Third Down Conversions/Attempts 4/16 5/17
Fourth Down Conversions/Attempts 2/4 2/2
Punts - Average Yards 6/44 7/45

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter UCF Pitt
Pitt 5:24 TD A.J. Davis 2 yd run (Alex Kessman kick) 0 7
2nd Quarter UCF Pitt
Pitt 0:29 TD Maurice Ffrench 2 yd pass from Kenny Pickett (Alex Kessman kick) 0 14
Pitt 6:02 TD Wendell Davis 18 yd blocked punt return (Alex Kessman kick) 0 21
UCF 10:11 TD Adrian Killins Jr. 11 yd run (Dylan Barnas kick) 7 21
UCF 14:56 FG Dylan Barnas 43 yd FG 10 21
3rd Quarter UCF Pitt
UCF 3:35 TD Gabriel Davis 10 yd pass from Dillon Gabriel (Dylan Barnas kick) 17 21
UCF 6:20 TD Otis Anderson 87 yd punt return (Dylan Barnas kick) 24 21
UCF 8:41 TD Gabriel Davis 28 yd pass from Dillon Gabriel (Dylan Barnas kick) 31 21
Pitt 10:49 TD Dontavius Butler-Jenkins 6 yd pass from Nick Patti (Alex Kessman kick) 31 28
4th Quarter UCF Pitt
UCF 10:24 FG Dylan Barnas 28 yd FG 34 28
Pitt 14:01 TD Kenny Pickett 3 yd pass from Aaron Mathews (Alex Kessman kick) 34 35

Game Information

Stadium: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 42,056
Game Time:
Weather: