Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett entered Thursday night’s showdown with Sam Howell and North Carolina with just 113 yards to go to break Pitt great Alex Van Pelt’s program record for career passing yards, and he was able to hit that mark less than one quarter into the game.
The record-setting pass was a 42-yard bomb to Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison that put the Panthers on the edge of the red zone for the fourth time in the game. Unfortunately for Pickett and the Panthers, that drive would stall out, leading to a 34-yard field goal instead of a touchdown. But with a 14-0 lead accrued at that time, Pitt wasn’t in dire need of points.
By halftime, Pitt led North Carolina 23-7, and Pickett had accrued 244 yards and two touchdowns, which put him over 30 for 2021. Pickett had also reached 11,399 career passing yards, placing his total 132 yards clear of Van Pelt’s mark of 11,267 and counting. Pickett’s big half saw him top a 29-year-old record, as Van Pelt finished his Pitt career in 1992.
With Van Pelt’s long-standing mark topped, Pickett’s next target in the Pitt record book is Rod Rutherford’s record for passing yards in a season, which is 3,679. That record has stood since 2003, but with Pickett at 3,415 passing yards on the season at the half, Rutherford’s record could fall before the end of the game.