One play after an apparent touchdown was waved off for an offensive pass interference penalty, Pat Bostick was intercepted by Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty in the end zone.
McCourty’s interception ended Pitt’s comeback chances, giving Rutgers a 20-16 victory in a Big East game Saturday afternoon before 43,531 at Rutgers Stadium.
Pitt (4-6, 2-3) drove 54 yards on 11 plays in the final 2:40, as Bostick completed 4 of 5 passes for 42 yards. With a second-and-goal at the 6, Bostick lofted a fade pass to Oderick Turner, who drew a flag for pushing off.
Rutgers (7-4, 3-3) clinched a bowl berth with the victory, as Jeremy Ito’s 30-yard field goal with 7:50 remaining forced the Panthers to go for a touchdown.
Rutgers held a 17-10 halftime lead before Kevan Smith replaced the ineffective Bostick in the third quarter and led the Panthers to a pair of Conor Lee field goals in the second half.
Linebacker Shane Murray blindsided Jabu Lovelace, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Scott McKillop at the Rutgers 21. Lee added a 32-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 17-16 with 11:05 remaining.
Smith, a redshirt freshman, made his first appearance since Sept. 22, when he was injured late in the first half of a 34-14 loss to Connecticut at Heinz Field. Bostick has started every game since, but was ineffective against Rutgers.
Bostick completed 3 of 10 passes for 35 yards in the first half, but took three sacks. Pitt’s offense managed only 75 first-half yards on 33 plays (2.3 per).
Smith completed 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards in the second half, as Pitt gained 144 yards on offense.
Rutgers took a 17-10 halftime lead when Ray Rice broke a 28-yard touchdown run with 4:51 remaining in the second quarter.
Pitt missed on a scoring opportunity after Scott McKillop intercepted a pass at the Rutgers 31, as Conor Lee’s 31-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left. It was one of three first-half turnovers by the Panthers.
The game was tied at 10-10 after the first quarter. Rutgers scored on its first drive, as Mike Teel completed passes of 22 yards to Kenny Britt and 23 yards to tight end Kevin Brock. McKillop popped Tiquan Underwood on a third-down pass at the 13. The Scarlet Knights settled for a Jeremy Ito 30-yard field goal and 3-0 lead with 11:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Pitt got a break when Kennard Cox intercepted a pass that tipped off the hands of receiver Kenny Britt and returned it 25 yards to the Rutgers 23. The Panthers tied it at 3-3 on Conor Lee’s 33-yard field goal at 6:39.
The Panthers forced another turnover when middle linebacker Scott McKillop sacked Jabu Lovelance and recovered the fumble at the Rutgers 12. The Panthers were stopped in four tries at the 1-yard line, but scored on the fifth when Pat Bostick lofted a fade pass to tight end Darrell Strong for a touchdown and 10-3 lead.
Rutgers responded with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Teel to Britt to tie the game at 10-10 with 59 seconds remaining.