BLACKSBURG, Va. — It was a cold, wet, windy and dark day at Lane Stadium, and it was just right for the No. 25 Virginia Tech Hokies.
As the Pittsburgh Panthers slid into mistakes and blunders on the natural grass surface, the Hokies thrived at home. On senior day — and the final home game for longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster — the Hokies weren’t going to allow the Panthers or the nasty weather spoil their party.
Virginia Tech frustrated and dominated Pitt on Saturday, and the Hokies won 28-0 in front of a large crowd of rowdy, proud and wet fans, who endured temperatures below 38 degrees.
With the loss, Pitt’s hopes of capturing a second straight ACC Coastal Division crown slipped away. The Panthers won’t be facing Clemson in Charlotte during the first weekend in December this season.
It was the first time Pitt (7-4; 4-3 ACC) had been shutout since a 2008 loss in the Sun Bowl to Oregon State. For Foster, it was the 36th blanking he had orchestrated over his career at Virginia Tech (8-3; 5-2 ACC).
The errors for Pitt began early and, like Jenga blocks, just kept piling up. They were down 14-0 after the first quarter and had just mustered up 10 total yards of offense and one first down, despite controlling more than six minutes of possession.
Perhaps the play the epitomized the day the most for Pitt was the first snap of their fourth drive. Before quarterback Kenny Pickett got the ball in his hands, the Panthers were already at a disadvantage with just 10 men on the field. Hokies’ linebacker Rayshard Ashby charged into the backfield untouched and sacked Pickett, but the quarterback fumbled as he was crumbling to the ground. Norell Pollard scooped the loose ball up for the Hokies and scored, giving them their second touchdown of the day.
Pitt didn’t put a drive together that went further than 22 yards until midway through the second quarter. Pickett completed two straight passes to cover 50 yards, and then a few rushes put the Panthers in a 4th-and-2 situation at the Hokies’ 10-yard-line. But instead of kicking a field goal, Pitt went for it and failed.
The Panthers didn’t come close to sniffing the end-zone again. Pitt was forced to punt nine times, was 3-of-15 on third down conversions and converted zero fourth downs on three tries. The Panthers were also penalized 10 times for 67 yards.
Pickett completed just 10-of-26 passes for 103 yards. Trailing by four touchdowns with about six minuted left in the fourth quarter, he was relieved at quarterback by redshirt freshman Nick Patti.
To make matters worse for Pitt, redshirt sophomore safety Paris Ford was ejected for the second time this season after being flagged for targeting in the fourth quarter. It’s the fourth time this season a Pitt player has picked up a targeting foul. Ford will miss the first half of next week’s regular season finale vs. Boston College.
The Hokies were powered on offense by Hendon Hooker, who completed 10-of-13 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 27 yards.
Virginia Tech will play for the Coastal Division title next weekend in its annual meeting with in-state rival Virginia. Pitt will look to finish its regular season strong against the Eagles at home.