Antwuan Reed returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown with less than 3 minutes remaining to lift Pittsburgh to a 33-20 win over Syracuse on Saturday.
The Panthers (6-6, 4-3 Big East) became bowl eligible for the fourth straight year with the victory. Tino Sunseri threw for 259 yards and a score and Kevin Harper drilled four field goals while the Pitt defense forced the reeling Orange (5-7, 1-6) into six turnovers.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib threw his 22nd touchdown pass of the season to tie a school record but also tossed two interceptions and fumbled twice as the Orange dropped their fifth straight.
The game may have been the final Big East contest for both schools, who announced in September they're heading to the ACC by 2014.
Pitt kicked off short to open the game and Syracuse couldn't make the catch. The Panthers recovered at the Orange 22 and scored on the next play, a catch and run from Tino Sunseri to Isaac Bennett.
Two snaps later Ryan Nassib was intercepted. The turnover set up a short field goal and Pittsburgh led 10-0 just 2:25 into the game.
SU got within three points a couple times, including early in the third quarter. Chandler Jones picked off Sunseri and returned it to the Pitt 28. Four plays later, Jerome Smith rumbled in from ten yards to pull the Orange within 20-17.
However, Pitt answered with a field goal and then a Syracuse fumble set up another Pitt three-pointer and the Panthers led by nine.
Syracuse opened the fourth quarter with a 21-play, 9:38 second drive that ended with a 22 yard Ross
Krautman field goal. The Orange forced a three and out, but two plays later, Reed ended their season.