(Editors note: Seminoles.com release)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Florida State showed flashes of brilliance early in taking a 14-3 first quarter lead, but Pitt outscored the Seminoles by a 38-3 margin over the final three quarters and took a 41-17 win at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles lost Jordan Travis, their starting quarterback at halftime, and were unable to keep up with the Panthers’ defense in the second half.
Florida State fell to 2-5 overall (1-5 ACC) while Pitt improved to 4-4 overall (3-4 ACC).
Travis scored a rushing touchdown for the school-record fifth consecutive game and completed 11-of-18 passes for 106 yards and totaled 83 yards on 14 rushes. Freshman Chubba Purdy completed 12-of-28 passes for 38 yards in the first extended playing time of his career. Camren McDonald caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 61 yards to lead nine different Seminoles caught at least one pass.
“I thought going into the contest, we got off to a good, early start,” said Florida State Head Coach Mike Norvell. “We were able to establish the run and hit some big plays early. I thought our defense came out playing with a lot of energy but unfortunately, we had a couple of guys that went down during the contest. We kind of got overwhelmed a little bit by their defensive forcing unit. They did a good job of creating pressure and we weren’t able to get anything established there in the second half.”
Pitt’s defense was credited with seven sacks, five quarterback hurries and three interceptions as they harassed a trio of Florida State quarterbacks throughout the game.
“We were not able to re-establish the run game (in the second half) and they did a good job sending their pressure packages with how they were attacking us,” said Norvell. “I felt good being able to get points going into halftime, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to get anything started. We put the defense in some really bad situations tonight with field position and some turnovers that we committed.”
Pitt broke on top on the first drive of the game with a 51-yard field goal by Alex Kessman to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
Florida State answered quickly to take a 7-3 lead as Travis engineered a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a one-yard scoring run by tight end Wyatt Rector. For Rector, a transfer from Western Michigan, it was the second carry and first touchdown of his career. The drive covered 75 yards in 10 plays and included two rushes for 15 yards and three-of-four passing for 33 yards by Travis.
Travis put the Seminoles ahead 14-3 on an 88-yard touchdown run – the longest of his career. On a designed run for the redshirt sophomore, he followed a huge hole through the left side of the line and outran the Pitt defense from one side of the field to the other. It marked the fifth consecutive game that he earned a rushing touchdown – a record for consecutive games with a rushing touchdown by a Seminole quarterback.
For Travis, the 88-yard touchdown scoring run was the longest by a quarterback in school history and longest by a Seminole since a 94-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook against Wake Forest in 2015.
“I thought Jordan was playing well,” said Norvell. “They got some pressure on him in the second quarter and we had some negative plays that showed up. That was the challenge. We knew coming into the game that we had to stay ahead of the chains, keep manageable situations. We missed out on a couple of third and a couple of fourth down opportunities that ended up being really big in the course of the game.”
Following an interception by A.J. Woods, Pitt closed its scoring gap to 14-10 with a 1-yard run by reserve quarterback Nick Patti. The Panthers had to go only 32 yards on four plays following the interception.
“I thought he (Jordan) did some good things early,” said Norvell. “Made some throws, obviously a couple of dynamic plays as a runner. I thought he played solid but some negative plays really kind of tacked up against us.”
Pitt re-took the lead midway through the second half on the second rushing touchdown of the game for Patti. He scored on a 2-yard run as part of a goal-line package that gave the Panthers a 17-14 advantage.
Kenny Pickett, the Panthers’ starting quarterback, increased Pitt’s lead to 24-14 on a 10-yard scoring run just over two minutes before halftime. Pickett found a running lane over the right side of his offensive line for the third rushing touchdown by a Panther quarterback in the first half.
Florida State’s Parker Grothaus closed out the scoring in the first half with a 47-yard field goal to bring the Seminoles to within 24-17.
Pitt increased its lead to 31-17 following its second interception of the game on Florida State’s first possession of the second half. Running back Vincent Davis capped a two-play, 2-yard drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
Pitt upped its lead to 34-17 on a 19-yard field goal by Kessman.
The Panthers were held to a field goal on the drive following a stellar goal line stand by the Seminoles’ defensive line. Florida State stopped Pitt’s offense on three consecutive plays from inside the 1-yard line to stay within striking distance.
“I was pleased with our defense on the goal line stand to force them into a field goal,” said Norvell. “I thought our defense continued to have good energy throughout while trying to do everything they could to make that play and give us that boost.”
Chubba Purdy relieved an injured Travis and played the majority of the second half at quarterback for the Seminoles.
“I was actually really calm, trying to go through my reads and making sure my alignment and my assignments were perfect and just making sure I was going in there and doing my job,” said Purdy. “I was trying to go through my reads at first and I felt pressure. They (Pitt) were doing some twist game and doing what they usually do. I was trying to make plays.
“Ever since I started playing football, my dad and my family taught me to be a leader. Whatever I am going to do or how my body language is that’s going to feed off to my teammates and how they are going to play. I was trying to be positive and really trying to be an upbeat person in tonight’s game.”
The Seminoles were led on defense by defensive back Jarvis Brownlee who totaled a career-high eight tackles (six solo) and one tackle for loss. Linebacker Amari Gainer, Florida State’s leading tackler on the season totaled seven tackles.
Florida State travels to play at NC State on Saturday night at 7:30 in a game televised by the ACC Network.