Watts has 2 picks, Estime rushes for 3 TDs, No. 14 Notre Dame routs Pitt 58-7
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Xavier Watts had two of Notre Dame’s four interceptions, Audric Estime rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish overwhelmed Pittsburgh 58-7 on Saturday.
Watts and the Notre Dame defense made life miserable for Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux, a redshirt sophomore making his third start. The Fighting Irish (7-2) scored 23 points off five Pitt turnovers — including a fumbled punt that Ramon Henderson recovered in the end zone or a touchdown — and have won seven of their past eight meetings with the Panthers (2-6).
Watts now has six interceptions this season, the most in FBS. He also had two picks in Notre Dame’s 48-20 win at Southern California two weeks ago.
Sam Hartman threw interceptions on Notre Dame’s first two possessions, but Pitt couldn’t take advantage either time. After the Panthers’ first pick, they went three-and-out, and Chris Tyree returned the punt 82 yards for a touchdown to put Notre Dame on the board.
Notre Dame struck quickly after Watts’ first pick. Estime had three carries for 51 yards on the ensuing four-play drive, which ended with him dashing to the end zone from 15 yards out.
The Fighting Irish poured it on in the third quarter. Hartman connected with Rico Flores Jr. for a 60-yard pass play, setting up a 10-yard scoring run by Jadarian Price that made it 24-0.
Veilleux then threw a pick-6 to Jaden Mickey, who took it 43 yards to the end zone.
After Notre Dame scored again on Henderson’s fumble recovery, Estime scored his second TD late in the third quarter on a 3-yard run to make it 44-0.
Hartman shook off his early woes to throw for 288 yards on 18-of-25 passing before he was replaced late by backup Steve Angeli, who went 6 of 7 for 92 yards and a touchdown. A dozen receivers had at least one catch for Notre Dame.
Veilleux finished 14 of 29 for 127 yards. Nate Yarnell took over and connected with Konata Mumpfield for a 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Veilleux was named Pitt’s starter after former Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec was benched following a 1-4 start. He led Pitt to a surprising win over Louisville — a week after the Cardinals knocked off Notre Dame — but has lost two straight since.
Pitt: Hosts No. 4 Florida State next Saturday.
Notre Dame: At Clemson next Saturday.