PITTSBURGH — Nate Peterman threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another to lead Pittsburgh to a wild 76-61 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
James Conner ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 35-yard pass for a score to extend his ACC career touchdown record to 56. The Panthers needed just about every one of them on a day when defenses for both teams put up little resistance.
Eight different Panthers reached the end zone as Pitt (8-4, 5-3 ACC) posted its highest point total since putting up 76 against Temple in 1978. Quadree Henderson rushed for a career-high 103 yards and a touchdown. Jester Weah hauled in a pair of scores and Dontez Ford added a 79-yard catch and run of his own in what amounted to a basketball game in cleats and shoulder pads.
Pitt's point total was higher than any the Panthers' hoops team scored in three meetings with the Orange last season, all Pitt victories. It also marked the most ever given up in a game by Syracuse (4-8, 2-6), which has been playing football since 1899.
The Panthers appeared to have this one well in hand after a 77-yard sprint by Maurice Ffrench put them up 56-27 halfway through the third quarter.
The Orange and backup quarterback Zack Mahoney, however, kept chipping away against the nation's 127th ranked pass defense. Mahoney threw for 440 yards and five scores, all of them Amba Etta-Tawo
Three times in the fourth quarter Syracuse pulled within two touchdowns only to have Pitt answer quickly. The teams combined for 137 points and 1,312 yards.
Syracuse: Etta-Tawo will be getting paid to catch the football next season. The graduate transfer from Maryland finished with 13 catches for 178 yards. His five receiving touchdowns gave him 14 on the season, tying Tommy Kane's school record.
Pitt: The Panthers finished the regular season with a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2004 and offensive coordinator Matt Canada will likely be a hot property after Pitt set a school record for points in a season (508). Yet there's plenty for coach Pat Narduzzi — who built Michigan State into a defensive power during his long run as coordinator there — to work on.
Syracuse: The loss ended any outside shot at a bowl game in coach Dino Babers' first season.
Pitt: Likely played its way into an upper-tier ACC bowl thanks to a resume that includes wins over Clemson and Penn State.