The Pittsburgh Panthers are the 2021 ACC Champions as they defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 45-21 in the ACC Championship on Saturday night.
The Pittsburgh Panthers were able to win due to the efforts by Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett or as Pitt fans call him, “Kenny Heisman.” Pickett was able to throw for 253 yards and two TDs, and rush for a very controversial 58-yard TD run.
During the controversial TD run, Pickett appeared to be going down in a slide motion, therefore, giving himself up to the defender. This caused the defender to pull up and stop going at Pickett. When Pickett saw him pulling up, he got back up from the slide motion and ran all the way for the score.
This “fake slide” that Pickett pulled off has caused a lot of questions on social media saying that it should be an illegal move. The reason for this stir is when a QB is doing a normal slide, a defender is taught to pull up and not hit the QB while he is in the sliding motion. Pickett took advantage of that rule by pulling back up on the slide making the defender in a worse position to tackle him making his TD run easier.
On the contrary, you can believe it’s not really an issue because this is one of the first times we have seen this move pulled off, and if it was such an advantage we would see it more often.
No matter how you think about the situation, the move looked elite on TV and could be a “Heisman Moment” for Kenny Pickett.
Although the Heisman Candidate did what he normally does with a stud performance, other Panthers stepped up to win the ACC Championship. Biletnikoff finalist Jordan Addison had eight catches for 126 yards and a 39-yard punt return that led to a Jared Wayne TD catch at the end of the first half giving the Panthers some momentum.
Israel Abanikanda who was coming off an injury had a gutsy performance with two TD runs on nine carries with 55 yards. He showed off his real speed in this game with his first TD him bouncing off to the right side and juking a defender for a 12-yard score. His second TD seemed to be more impressive considering he got stopped at the goal line on a third-and-goal but he had the second effort for him to get the TD.
On the other side, the Panthers’ defense played some of their best football of the season after they allowed 21 points on the Demon Deacons’ first three drives.
The defensive stars for the Panthers were ILB Sirvocea Dennis and DB Erick Hallett.
Dennis amped the entire defense up after the 21 points they allowed on their first three drives by having 12 total tackles two sacks and two tackles for loss in the game. It was noticeable that he was the spark that the panthers needed in the second quarter.
Hallett, who was named ACC Championship MVP, had two interceptions and one of which he took back for a TD. Panther fans saw him as a liability earlier in the season, but for this game, he was nothing even close to a liability. His two interceptions stopped the Demon Deacons from having any thought of a comeback and helped Pitt become ACC Champions for the first time in program history.