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Pitt’s Defense Spots Offense 14 Points, Leads Panthers to 37-7 Win Against Virginia



Pitt defensive lineman Calijah Kancey

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia’s offense ran three offensive series before Kedon Slovis and Pitt’s offense stepped out on the field for the first time.

But it was Pitt that led 14-0 as Kedon Slovis took Pitt’s offensive snap of the game.

That’s what back-to-back interceptions returned for touchdowns on an opposing quarterback’s first two throws of a game will do. Brennan Armstrong enjoyed immense success in the 2021 edition of Pitt-Virginia. He didn’t fare as well in the 2022 edition.

Armstrong, who admittedly has struggled to find consistency this season, stepped up on his first pass attempt of the afternoon and fired toward the sideline. M.J. Devonshire undercut the route, hauled the ball into his chest and raced 29 yards for a touchdown.

Armstrong and the Virginia offense trotted back out on the field, ran it back with another pass (slightly underthrown by Armstrong down the field), and Marquis Williams picked it off this time, racing back 39 yards for a touchdown.

Pitt led 14-0 with 14:44 on the clock in the first quarter.

Pitt’s dominant defensive effort, scoring 14 of 37 points, sacking Armstrong eight times (wracking up eight tackles for loss) and limiting the Virginia offense to -8 rush yards led to a 37-7 win at Scott Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Slovis completed 13-of-23 pass attempts for 198 yards and a touchdown, but Pitt’s offense as a whole converted 6-of-15 third down attempts, the offensive line didn’t allow a sack and scored early to build an insurmountable lead.

A balanced offensive showing resulted in 389 yards offensively (208 through the air and 189 on the ground), and Pitt’s defense allowed just 144 yards to Armstrong and Virginia’s offense.

With a cushion provided by the defense, which has been a key factor in Pitt’s wins this season, alongside Abanikanda’s offensive dominance and occasional defensive touchdowns, Pitt’s offense opened up early.

Slovis connected with Bub Means on a 37-yard deep ball on the first offensive series, and Abanikanda capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown drive. Slovis’ deep ball wasn’t always in sync, but he continued to attempt to stretch the field.

Slovis missed on a deep ball to Jared Wayne in the first half, underthrowing a ball that might’ve been a touchdown if caught in stride, but it was a nice break up from Virginia’s Fentrell Cypress.

And if anyone got deja vu on Cypress’ third quarter pass breakup, getting in the way of an underthrown deep ball intended for Konata Mumpfield — it was a nearly identical situation.

However, Slovis’ confidence didn’t waver as he hit Bub Means for a 31-yard touchdown strike, an off-platform throw in which he was flushed from the pocket but stepped up into a toss to the end zone.

Pitt led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. And it came as Abanikanda was largely bottled up by the Virginia defense through the first half.

Neither offense — or defense — was able to find the end zone in the second quarter, as Ben Sauls’ 54-yard field goal attempt doinked off the left upright and UVA’s Will Bettridge pulled a 43-yard field goal of his own.

Slovis continued to stretch the field in the second half, missing on the aforementioned Mumpfield target early in the third quarter, but he laid a ball out for Means that was dropped and connected with Wayne on a 23-yard strike to set up a 26-yard Sauls field goal.

Virginia’s offense finally found some rhythm late in the third quarter, on a drive in which both John Morgan and UVA’s Ty Furnish were ejected for flagrant unsportsmanlike penalties.

Armstrong stood in the pocket, and even picked up some yardage with his legs, en route to a beautiful throw and catch to set up a nine-yard Malachi Fields touchdown — another example of a big receiver or tight end out-jumping Pitt’s secondary.

And when Pitt’s offensive consistency began to evaporate in the second half, Virginia’s began to find some consistency — until Calijah Kancey hauled down Armstrong for a 15-yard loss to ruin an ill-timed trick play.

Pitt leaned heavily upon Abanikanda to open the fourth quarter, which allowed him to reach the century mark for the seventh time this season, and Sauls nailed another chip shot field goal from 27 yards to pad the lead. Another Sauls’ field goal, from 39 yards out, capped the win for Pitt.

The sixth win of the season propels Pitt to bowl eligibility, with the chance to reach eight regular season wins in the event of winning out.

Pitt will return home to Acrisure Stadium next weekend to take on Duke, with both teams having earned bowl eligibility this season, before traveling to Miami in two weeks to conclude the regular season.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Burton Tee
Burton Tee
1 year ago

Nice win. Great team effort and huge day for the defense. But don’t be disillusioned that this is a good team. Yes, defense looked great today, as did both lines, and the run game. However the last time I checked there were 9 penalties. That is a constant and ongoing story this season, and a sign of an undisciplined team. Only being to generate two TDs on offense is another concern. QB play still stinks. Lots of underthrown balls, resulting in yet another underwhelming performance. They need to catapult Cignetti outta here. Send Slovis with him. This could have been… Read more »

Student section
Student section
1 year ago
Reply to  Burton Tee

Narduzzi must start interviewing new OC candidates the day after the Miami game.

1 year ago

9 Wins in a Season is GREAT for PITT, just not for our fanbase. 4 nine Win Seasons since 83’. As the Sherrill and Majors’ still skews perception of expectations.

Maybe we Start recruiting like Sherrill did, wink-wink.

BTW, The U Miami has Won Coastal once and has Zero ACC Championships (to go with their 5 National Championships).

Robert E Landel
Robert E Landel
1 year ago

 Karl Ludwig, Glad you didn’t start hyping Slovis’ play. I still feel bad for PATTI. During the last 10 games of the Slovis fiasco, Patti didn’t even get a chance to showcase his talents. Nice guys Cignetti and Narduzzi? No love for a loyal talented player.

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