Marucci’s late TD pass lifts Wake Forest over Pitt

The third-string quarterback connected with Cameron Hite for the go-ahead score

Wake Forest quarterback Santino Marucci looks to pass against Pittsburgh during the Demon Deacons’ 21-17 win Saturday in Winston-Salem. (Chuck Burton / AP Photo)

WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest third-string quarterback Santino Marucci threw 15 yards to Cameron Hite with 7 seconds remaining to cap a dizzying turn of events in a 21-17 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The teams combined for three touchdowns in the last 3:02, with Wake Forest (4-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapping a three-game losing streak.

Marucci’s winning pass connected with Hite in the middle of the field as the tight end dove into the end zone.

Christian Veilleux snapped out of Pittsburgh’s offensive doldrums by throwing 22 yards to Bub Means for a touchdown with 1:30 remaining.

Pittsburgh (2-5, 1-3) needed two more defensive stops with the Demon Deacons moving into Panthers’ territory – and only got one. M.J. Devonshire’s interception halted the first of those possessions.

Wake Forest got another chance when Veilleux appeared to pick up a clinching first down on a third-down run. But it was ruled he began his slide before the yard-to-reach mark. A punt followed, and the Demon Deacons went 48 yards on six plays with just one time-out.

Marucci was 12-for-21 passing for 151 yards with two interceptions. Demond Claiborne gained 96 yards on 14 carries.

Veilleux completed 28 of 45 passes for 302 yards. C’Bo Flemister rushed for 105 yards on 23 carries.

Claiborne ran 42 yards for a touchdown with 3:02 left to cap Wake Forest’s 89-yard drive.

Claiborne’s second touchdown run of the game completed a six-play possession.

Marucci, a redshirt sophomore, made his debut as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback. The Demon Deacons had only 125 yards of total offense through three quarters, but finished with 323.

Wake Forest quarterbacks Mitch Griffis, who started the first six games, and Michael Kern were out with injuries.

This was a rematch of the 2021 ACC championship game. The Panthers were trying to follow up an upset of then-No. 14 Louisville a week earlier.

Ben Sauls kicked a 41-yard field goal with 13:03 left to give the Panthers a 10-7 edge. Pittsburgh’s go-ahead field goal came at the end of a 43-yard drive following Phillip O’Brien Jr.’s interception.

On Wake Forest’s next possession, the Demon Deacons reached the Panthers’ 32, but gave the ball back when coming up short on a fourth-and-2 run.

Veilleux threw 7 yards to Kenny Johnson for the first points to cap the game’s opening possession.

Wake Forest pulled even with 1:32 left in the first half, going 55 yards in two plays – aided by a 15-yard penalty – and scoring on Claiborne’s 18-yard run.

Wake Forest is home against No. 4 Florida State next Saturday.