Pitt Defense Shines, Panthers Improve to 5-1 with Road Win at Virginia Tech
BLACKSBURG, VA – The Hokies tried to pass and the Hokies tried to run.
But for the majority of a breezy Saturday afternoon against Pitt’s defense, they were not very successful at either method of moving the football.
The Pittsburgh Panthers spoiled Virginia Tech’s homecoming at Lane Stadium, stomping the 28-7 in front of an announced crowd of 58,314 fans, a group primarily made up of disappointed Virginia Tech students and alumni.
It was the first time since 2014 that Virginia Tech had been held to less than 10 points at home, where Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blares through the stadium speakers before kickoff in an effort to intimidate opponents. Pitt was not rattled though. It was the third time this season they held an opposing offense to a touchdown or less.
The Panthers (5-1; 2-0 ACC) racked up three sacks, forced a turnover and held the Hokies to just 218 yards of total offense. In the first half, the Hokies (3-3; 1-1 ACC) were off the field in three plays or less on seven of their nine offensive possessions. In all, Virginia Tech went 4-of-14 on third down conversions.
One of the stars for Pitt’s defense was linebacker Cam Bright as he piled up five tackles, one of which was a nine-yard sack on Hokies’ quarterback Braxton Burmeister. Bright also tallied an additional QB-hit on the Hokies’ redshirt junior passer.
Compared to Virginia Tech, Pitt found the endzone rather quickly. The Panthers scored on their second drive of the day; a lengthy 15-play combination that covered 94 yards and soaked up nearly six minutes of clock in the first quarter. It was capped off by Kenny Pickett finding freshman tight end Gavin Bartholomew for an eight-yard scoring strike.
The touchdown was historical in a few ways. It was the first career score for Bartholomew, a 6-foot-4 product of Schuylkill Haven, PA and marked the 10th reception of his rookie campaign. For Pickett, it was the first passing touchdown he’d thrown in three career starts in Blacksburg. It was also Pickett’s 20th score through the air of the season, making him the first Pitt quarterback to throw at least that many touchdowns in one season since Nathan Peterman notched 27 in 2016.
Pickett added two more scores in the second quarter – rushing for one and throwing for another – to put the Panthers ahead 21-0 at intermission. In all, Pickett completed 22-of-37 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 40 yards and a score.
Pickett delivers under pressure 💪@Pitt_FB | #ACCFootball
📱 https://t.co/LmbCwTJePd pic.twitter.com/K55yyto3lP
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 16, 2021
Additionally for the Pitt offense, Israel Abanikanda had 140 rushing yards on 21 totes, and Vincent Davis added a rushing touchdown. Jordan Addison caught five passes for 62 yards, but was kept out of the endzone, breaking his streak of five straight games with a score.
While Pitt couldn’t continue its streak of five straight games of scoring 40 points or more, it won the football contest by a sizable margin. Pitt is off to its best start to a season since 2015, when it began Pat Narduzzi’s first season as head coach with a 6-1 record. Pitt can match that mark next week, but it won’t be easy. The Panthers host 4-2 Clemson, the reigning six-time conference champs.
Not gonna lie, when the Charlotte boys started throwing the laundry around I started to get nervous.
I enjoyed this win. Great improvement in the running game. However,the second half was plagued with penalties, drops and other misplays. Plenty to work on before Clemson.
Hail to Pitt!
Nicely done Pitt. Nicely done.