Pickett, Pitt add to Duke’s woes

The Blue Devils dropped their fifth straight

Duke running back Mataeo Durant gets hit by Pittsburgh defensive back Brandon Hill during the Panthers' 54-29 win Saturday in Durham. (Chris Seward / AP Photo)

DURHAM — Kenny Pickett threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score as Pittsburgh pulled away to beat Duke 54-29 on Saturday.

Pickett threw for 405 yards as the Panthers (7-2, 4-1 ACC, No. 25 CFP) bounced back from a home loss to Miami a week earlier. They have their best nine-game record since an 8-1 mark in 2009.

“Just got back into a rhythm, playing our game,” Pickett said of an offense that generated 636 yards of total offense. “Getting into the rhythm of the game.”

Sam Scarton kicked four field goals on his 21st birthday for Pittsburgh, which leads the ACC’s Coastal Division and improved to 4-0 in road games. Jordan Addison, who scored on a reception and a rush, racked up 171 receiving yards on seven catches.

“Road victories are big and we got a lot of guys in there that played,” Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi said.

Duke (3-6, 0-5) lost its fifth game in a row. Quarterback Gunnar Holmberg exited with an upper-body injury on the team’s final possession of the first half after throwing for 174 yards and a touchdown. Running back Mataeo Durant gained 89 yards on 24 carries.

Pittsburgh went ahead for good on Pickett’s 22-yard scramble with four minutes left in the first half after an array of potential momentum-turning plays. The Panthers led 30-19 at halftime, with Scarton connecting on his third field goal in an eight-minute span on the final play of the half.

“These guys are good on offense,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said of the Panthers. “We didn’t cover them close enough. We didn’t get them enough pressure on the quarterback.”

Duke drove to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line on the game’s opening possession before Durant’s fumble and a wild chase for the ball. Pittsburgh responded, going 76 yards in seven plays with Pickett hitting Jared Wayne on a 10-yard scoring pass.

Duke scored on its second possession, with Charlie Ham’s 46-yard field goal giving the Blue Devils their first first-half points in three games.

Moments later following a Pickett fumble, Duke was denied on Durant’s fourth-down run from the Pittsburgh 1.

“Our defense continues to be very, very good on fourth down,” Narduzzi said.

But the next play, Pittsburgh running back Vincent Davis Jr. was tackled in the end zone for a safety.

After that, Duke’s main highlights were Holmberg’s 32-yard scoring pass to Jalon Calhoun and Jaylen Stinson’s 86-yard kickoff return.

The Blue Devils play at Virginia Tech next Saturday.