Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns passes and the Pitt defense held Massachusetts to 209 yards of total offense as the Panthers cruised to a 51-7 season-opening victory on Saturday.
Pickett linked up with Lucas Krull and Jordan Addison for first-quarter touchdowns as the Panthers jumped out to a two-score lead in the first 15 minutes.
The fifth-year senior directed the offense efficiently, completing 27 of 37 passes for 272 yards and the two scores. Pickett also rushed six times for 39 yards on a combination of scrambles and designed runs.
After taking an early lead, the Panthers leaned on the rushing game, with four different backs finding the end zone. A.J. Davis scored from 18 yards out in the second quarter.
In the third, Vincent Davis rushed in from six yards out and Israel Abanikanda scored from 12 yards to extend the lead.
Pickett exited late in the third quarter. Nick Patti added a rushing touchdown and was 5 of 5 for 58 yards. Daniel Carter scored late in the fourth. Pitt rushed 41 times for 222 yards.
The Minutemen were kept from the end zone until the fourth quarter, when Tyler Lytle scored on a one-yard keeper. He threw 26 times, completing 11 for 139.
Pitt’s defense seems to be up to its 2020 standard, despite losing five starters to the NFL. The Panthers held UMass to 2019 yards of total offense, sacking Lytle five times, making six tackles for loss and forcing a fumble. The Panthers finished No. 20 among FBS teams, allowing 339.5 yards per game last season.
Pitt will travel to Tennessee next Saturday in the first matchup between the teams since 1983. UMass hosts Boston College on Saturday. The Minutemen have lost 10 straight against the Eagles.