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Defense Leads Pitt to 31-14 Win Over Virginia

Defense Leads Pitt to 31-14 Win Over Virginia

PITTSBURGH — Pitt’s resurrected rushing offense appears to be legitimate, as the Panthers followed up their best rushing performance of the season a week ago at Duke with another solid rushing effort in a 31-17 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday.

While Darrin Hall didn’t have any home-run plays like he did against the Blue Devils, he found plenty of running room inside and cracked the century mark once again, rushing for 111 yards on 25 carries.

Hall started the scoring with a 14-yard scamper straight ahead and Pitt clearly established something early on offense, grinding out long drives at a rain-soaked and chilly Heinz Field.

Fellow back Qadree Ollison added a 25-yarder in the second half, as Pitt’s offensive line opened big holes for both backs against the Cavaliers’ 3-4 look. The two backs combined for 158 yards on 31 carries and two scores.

When Pitt wasn’t running the ball, Ben DiNucci found enough open receivers to keep the Pitt drives going. He connected on 10 for 18 passes for 134 yards, with a 18-yard TD to Jester Weah and one interception. He also found Maurice Ffrench streaking down the right side for 33 yards to set up that score.

Pitt’s defense came up with a few big plays of their own to seal the victory. Saleem Brightwell tipped a ball and then made an interception off his own deflection to set up Hall’s first-quarter score.

In the third quarter, defensive linemen Shane Roy and Rashad Weaver dropped Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert for back-to-back sacks to stall a drive.

The Panthers stopped the Cavaliers on fourth down three times in the game, most importantly when Roy and Elias Reynolds teamed up to stuff Virginia’s Jordan Ellis at the 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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