CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Like many college football fans watching around the country, Pitt still doesn’t have a clear explanation for the reason that defensive end Patrick Jones II was ejected for targeted in the final seconds of the first half of Pitt’s 23-13 win over Virginia on Friday night.
Jones was not initially flagged on the play, but after a booth-initiated review, was given a targeting foul and ejected from the game. Jones will be eligible to return when Pitt hosts Virginia Tech next Saturday.
Pitt had Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins stood up, but not brought to the ground, and the elusive runner was still trying to break free from the grasp of Rashad Weaver when Jones came in late and hit him high. Take a look:
The NCAA standards for targeting are either “the crown of the helmet is used to make forcible contact” or “there is forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.”
The first is clearly not the case, as Jones comes in leading with his facemask. The second one is certainly questionable in multiple facets. Perkins was a runner, not a passer and was actively attempting to gain yards. Jones does eventually make helmet-to-helmet contact, but it’s not the primary point of contact.
“I thought he had his face up,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said after the game. “You try to put a lick on him. Patrick Jones is a tough kid. What are you going to do? Sometimes, it happens. It wasn’t anything he was trying to do intentionally. It wasn’t like he was trying to launch or anything like that.”
“Coaches disagreed with it, but the call is what it is,” added Weaver. “Pat put his head on the ball, his eyes were up and it just slid up to his helmet, which is, a good tackle. His face hit the ball first and then slid up. There’s nothing you can really ask. He’s being aggressive and honestly, we’ll take that every day. Obviously, you don’t want him to sit out games, but playing like that, he’s coming after the ball. That’s something we practice and that’s good, honestly.”
The call ended up not hurting the Panthers too badly. It did shorten Virginia’s field goal attempt to end the first half, and Jones had to sit out the second half, but Pitt was able to come back in the second half and win by two scores, with the play of Weaver and Dewayne Hendrix at end going a long way to securing the victory.