Pitt football claims first ACC football title

Sophomore+running+back+Israel+Abanikanda+after+scoring+at+the+ACC+Championship+Game+on+Saturday+night.

Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Sophomore running back Israel Abanikanda after scoring at the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night.

By Dalton Coppola, Assistant Sports Editor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time in its history, Pitt football is the ACC football champion. The Panthers took down the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 45-21 at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night.

Pitt began competing in the ACC in 2013 and has played in the conference championship game just once before — losing to the Clemson Tigers 41-10 in 2018.

Pitt Panthers celebrate during the first half of Saturday evening’s ACC championship game against Wake Forest University at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Redshirt senior quarterback Kenny Pickett was the team’s quarterback in the program’s first appearance in the championship game. Upon announcing his return to Pitt for a final year, he maintained that the ultimate goal was to come back and win a championship.

“I think we have a really good team, we just have to put it all together and everything else will take care of itself,” Pickett said in June in an interview with The Pitt News. “I would love to bring a championship back to this City and back to this school.”

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Pitt Panthers celebrate during the first half of Saturday evening’s ACC championship game against Wake Forest University at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Pamela Smith | Visual Editor)

Pickett completed 20 passes on 32 attempts and threw for 253 yards, scoring three total touchdowns in the win. After a win, Pickett typically allots the team a 24-hour window to enjoy the victory. But he thinks after the championship that he and his teammates deserve a little longer of a window.

“I think we’ll get a few more hours with this one,” Pickett said. “It’s a special game to walk off of the field a champion and accomplish everything you’ve worked for — we’re definitely going to enjoy it.”

After winning 10 regular season games for the first time in 40 years and breaking numerous long-standing program records, Pickett has done just that. This is the first time since Virginia Tech’s victory in 2010 that the ACC Champion was not Florida State or Clemson. Head coach Pat Narduzzi said he is immensely proud of his team and his players for executing on Saturday night.

“I remember being here four years ago and shaking my head,” Narduzzi said. “I’ve got 120 football players in that locker room that did it all together. The kids made a lot of plays today and it’s a tribute to the hard work they put in.”

Pitt will now wait for the NCAA Bowl Committee to announce this year’s bowl lineup. The selection show will air Sunday at noon on ESPN.