PITTSBURGH (AP) — James Conner scored twice to set a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference career touchdown records as Pittsburgh drilled Duke 56-14 on Saturday.
Conner bulled over from 1 yard in the first quarter and again in the third to give him 50 rushing touchdowns for his career, breaking the previous mark set by N.C. State's Ted Brown between 1975 and 1978. Conner now has 53 touchdowns in all, eclipsing the old ACC mark of 52 set by Wali Lundy of Virginia from 2002-05.
A year removed from a cancer diagnosis that forced him into months of debilitating treatment, Conner finished with 101 yards rushing as the Panthers avoided a letdown following an emotional upset of Clemson last week.
Quadree Henderson returned a punt 65 yards for a score and added a 52-yard sprint for Pitt (7-4, 4-3) while Nate Peterman threw three touchdowns.
Daniel Jones completed 28 of 46 for 248 yards and a touchdown but the Blue Devils (4-7, 1-6) did little downfield against the nation's 127th-ranked pass defense. Pitt senior defensive end Ejuan Price sacked Jones twice and the Panthers enjoyed a rare breather following a series of close games this season.
Pitt never trailed and broke it open in the third quarter when Conner blasted over for his record-setting score and Henderson followed by taking a kick from Duke's Danny Stirt, shaking a couple tackles then sprinting down the right sideline to give the Panthers a 42-14 lead.
Duke: The only chance the Blue Devils have of making a fifth straight bowl game will be with a win at Miami next week and hope there aren't enough 6-6 teams to fill the bowl slots.
Pitt: While the defense is hardly stout, the Panthers have become opportunistic of late. Pitt used an interception and a late fourth-down stop to stun the Tigers. An early fumble recovery by linebacker Matt Galambos on Duke's first play set up a 16-yard strike from Peterman to Dontez Ford. The Panthers turned a fumbled kickoff return by the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter into more points while putting together their most complete performance of the season.