Pitt dispatches Danes in opener

PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Pittsburgh breezed past Albany, 33-7, in the season opener on Saturday.

Nine months removed from a stunning upset of second-ranked Miami in his first collegiate start, Pickett picked right up where he left off. The sophomore completed his first 13 passes and finished 16 of 22 for 154 yards. He hit Rafael Araujo-Lopes twice for scores in the second quarter, the first on a 3-yard lob and another on a 42-yard catch-and-run in which Araujo-Lopes did most of the work.

Maurice Ffrench returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and added a 9-yard scoring run later in the first quarter as the Panthers needed just over 10 minutes to build a 19-point lead. Pitt jumped out to a quick three-touchdown advantage over Youngstown State in the 2017 opener only to be pushed to overtime.

There was no drama this time around.

“We talked about it not happening and we came out in a different fashion,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “That shows our kids and hopefully shows everybody that this is a different football team. We didn’t just go out there and settle for less again. I think we’re just going to keep getting better.”

Qadree Ollison ran for a team-high 73 yards for the Panthers, who gashed the Great Danes for 238 yards on the ground.

Vincent Testaverde, son of former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde, passed for 263 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his first start for Albany. Dev Holmes caught nine passes for 148 yards but the Great Danes were never really in it after the early barrage.

“My greatest fear was starting the game in the way that we started,” Albany coach Greg Gattuso said.

BIG PICTURE

Albany: Testaverde gives the Great Danes a legitimate threat at quarterback. The fifth-year senior didn’t wilt in the face of near constant pressure and showcased his arm on several occasions. If he can stay healthy — he left briefly in the fourth quarter after taking a sack — Albany should be considerably more dangerous than the team that averaged just 17 points a game in 2017.

Pitt: The Panthers stressed the need to avoid looking past an FCS opponent in the opener after nearly losing to Youngstown State in Week 1 a year ago. They wasted little time burying the Great Danes, a sign of maturity from a group that includes 19 seniors.