PITTSBURGH (AP) — MJ Devonshire returned a tipped pass 56 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 remaining and No. 17 Pittsburgh beat West Virginia 38-31 on Thursday night in the return of the Backyard Brawl.
The Panthers edged their rivals for the first time since 2008 after a pass by West Virginia’s JT Daniels smacked off the hands of Bryce Ford-Wheaton and into the hands of Devonshire, who weaved his way through traffic to give Pitt its second touchdown in 43 seconds to turn a seven-point deficit into a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Mountaineers drove deep into Pitt territory in the final minute and Daniels hit Reese Smith on a fourth-down fling that appeared to bring the ball to the Pitt 1. Briefly anyway. Replays showed the ball skimmed the turf before Smith could bring it in and the crowd of 70,622 — the largest to attend a sporting event in the city’s history — erupted.
Southern California transfer Kedon Slovis threw for 308 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Panthers in the opener for both teams. Rodney Hammond ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter because of a right leg injury that appeared serious.
Daniels, looking to revive his career following stints at USC and Georgia, completed 24 of 40 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns to Ford-Wheaton and the pick that Devonshire turned into Pitt’s first victory over its longtime rivals since 2008.
Freshman running back CJ Donaldson ran for 125 yards for West Virginia as the Mountaineers piled up 190 yards on the ground. Yet fourth-year coach Neal Brown didn’t feel confident enough in his running game to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Pitt 48 midway through the fourth quarter and his team up 31-24.
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA STATE 58, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 44
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Spencer Sanders passed for a career-high 406 yards and accounted for six touchdowns and Oklahoma State beat Central Michigan to give Mike Gundy his 150th coaching victory.
Gundy improved to 150-69 in his 18th season coaching his alma mater.
Sanders matched a career high with four touchdown passes and set a career mark with two rushing scores. Braydon Johnson had career highs of six catches for 133 yards and Brennan Presley added five catches for 83 yards.
Daniel Richardson passed for a career-high 424 yards and threw four touchdown passes for Central Michigan. Lew Nichols III, the nation’s leading rusher last year, ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
Sanders passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and ran for two more scores to help the Cowboys take a 44-15 lead.
NO. 22 WAKE FOREST 44, VMI 10
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Mitch Griffis threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, helping Wake Forest beat VMI.
Griffis started with Sam Hartman sidelined indefinitely by a non-football medical issue. Hartman — who guided the Demon Deacons to last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game — was on the sideline in his black jersey, black shorts and a black cap to watch his understudy lead an easy victory over a Championship Subdivision opponent.
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