Pitt defeated Wake Forest 45-21 in the ACC championship game on Saturday night, and the Panthers put the game away with three consecutive interceptions that directly led to three touchdowns. The first and last of those interceptions came courtesy of Pitt defensive back Erick Hallett, who was named the MVP of the ACC championship game.
Hallett’s first pick came late in the third quarter, when Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman tossed the ball to the logo at midfield and found only Hallett in the vicinity. The safety crouched down for the ball, fell forward, bobbled it a bit and then secured it for a pivotal turnover. Pitt would score on the next drive, going up 31-21, and Hartman’s confidence would clearly be shaken moving forward.
The last interception was a pick-six on a throw from Hartman to Wake Forest receiver Jaquarii Roberson. Hallett leapt up for the pick and returned it 19 yards for a score. What made that play so momentous was that it came less than two minutes after Pitt cornerback A.J. Woods picked off Hartman and ran it back 73 yards to set up a score by Pitt running back Israel Abanikanda. And with Hallett’s pick-six being the last major play of the game, it would put an exclamation point on Pitt’s victory.
With the clutch performance, Hallett tied Pitt linebacker John Petrishen for the team lead in interceptions, as both players now have three on the season. The safety will look to build on his big game in the coming weeks, when Pitt concludes its 2021 season in a bowl game.