Kenny Pickett scored three touchdowns and No. 15 Pittsburgh finally put the clamps on No. 16 Wake Forest's offense in a 45-21 victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C.
The Panthers (11-2) won their first ACC title in their second appearance in the championship game.
Pickett threw for 253 yards, completing 20 of 32 passes. Jordan Addison had eight catches for 126 yards.
Israel Abanikanda scored on two touchdown runs in a four-minute span of the second half.
Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman was intercepted four times, including thrice in the second half. Pittsburgh scored touchdowns after each of the first two of those turnovers on Abanikanda runs of 12 and 1 yards, and then Erick Hallett returned the next pickoff 19 yards for a touchdown.
In a stretch of slightly more than four minutes, Pittsburgh's lead swelled from 24-21 to 45-21.
Wake Forest (10-3) was third nationally in scoring with 42.9 points per game before being stymied across the last three quarters. Pittsburgh had posted 42.8 points per game before this weekend.
Pickett opened the game's scoring on a 58-yard touchdown run just 78 seconds into the game. He threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Hammond about four minutes later. That scoring pass gave him 80 touchdown throws in his career, breaking a tie with Dan Marino for the Pittsburgh school record.
Pickett's 4-yard scoring pass to Jared Wayne was the only second-quarter touchdown.
Pittsburgh went up 24-21 on Sam Scarton's 41-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.
Wake Forest scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and led 21-14 by the end of the first quarter. Hartman threw five yards to A.T. Perry, ran for an 11-yard touchdown and threw 26 yards to Taylor Morin.
After that, it became rough for the Demon Deacons. Hartman was also intercepted four times last December in the same stadium in a bowl loss to Wisconsin.
Wake Forest was trying for its third ACC title and its second since the championship game format was implemented. The Demon Deacons defeated Georgia Tech in the 2006 title game.
--Field Level Media