December 27, 2019 / 5:08 AM / 25 days ago

Pitt beats EMU in Quick Lane Bowl on late TD pass

EditorsNote: adds to fifth graf; fixes “Jared” in next-to-last graf; changing to “appearing to spit at” in last graf

Dec 26, 2019; Detroit, Michigan, USA; A fan holds up a towel given upon entry before the game between the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Pittsburgh Panthers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Taysir Mack’s 25-yard touchdown catch of a Kenny Pickett pass with 47 seconds left Thursday night gave Pittsburgh a 34-30 win over Eastern Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.

Pickett, who completed 27 of 39 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns, led a 10-play, 91-yard drive in just 1:56 that enabled the Panthers to finish 8-5. They never led until the game-winning touchdown.

The Eagles (6-7) had all three timeouts remaining for their final drive, but it ended in embarrassing fashion. Quarterback Mike Glass III was ejected with 10 seconds left for being called for two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties when he punched Panthers linebacker Cam Bright after a third-down pass fell incomplete. Backup Preston Hutchinson threw an incompletion on fourth down.

Glass hit on 28 of 50 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while rushing for 83 yards and a score on 21 carries.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Maurice Ffrench caught 12 passes for 165 yards and a score, breaking Larry Fitzgerald’s single-season program record for most receptions with 96. Fitzgerald had 92 catches in 2003.

Playing in front of a bowl-record crowd of 34,765, mostly for Eastern Michigan, which is located just 36 miles from Detroit in Ypsilanti, the Eagles took a 10-0 lead after one quarter. Chad Ryland booted a 35-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession, and Glass rushed for a 3-yard touchdown, five plays after a turnover.

Pittsburgh responded in the second quarter with a 44-yard field goal by Alex Kessman and a school-record, 96-yard scoring strike from Pickett to Ffrench.

Eastern Michigan answered less than two minutes later with Glass’ 50-yard touchdown pass to Quian Williams, but Vincent Davis tied the score at 17 on an 8-yard run for the Panthers. Ryland’s 45-yard field goal at the 1:32 mark allowed the Eagles to take a 20-17 lead into halftime.

Kessman’s 51-yard field goal with 4:16 left in the third quarter evened the game at 20, setting the stage for a dramatic fourth-quarter finish.

Glass connected with Arthur Jackson III on a 10-yard touchdown early in the final quarter for a 27-20 Eastern Michigan lead, but Pickett led Pitt right back for the game-tying score just 2:23 later — finding Jared Wayne for a 19-yarder to tie the game at 27. Ryland answered with a 48-yard field goal with six minutes remaining, and the Eagles were on top again until the final minute.

Eastern Michigan cornerback Kevin McGill was ejected less than two minutes into the third quarter for flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct after appearing to spit at a Pittsburgh player.

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