#24 Virginia Tech used a suffocating defense to beat Pitt 19-9 in Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. The Hokies are now 6-1 overall, 3-0 in league play, and they control their own destiny in the Coastal Division. Pitt dropped to 3-2 overall, and 2-2 in ACC play.
The Hokies now own the head-to-head tiebreaker against Coastal Division rivals Georgia Tech, UNC and Pitt. All of those teams are effectively eliminated from the Coastal Division race.
Bud Foster’s defense sacked Pitt quarterback Tom Savage eight times, and missed perhaps another eight opportunities at sacks. The Panthers finished the game with just 210 yards of total offense. They had just 23 yards on the ground on 26 rushing attempts, including the eight sacks.
Virginia Tech used r-sophomore Dadi Nicolas as both a defensive end and a whip linebacker. This was a good matchup for Nicolas as a whip, because he didn’t have to worry about pass coverage. He simply pinned his ears back and went after the quarterback. He finished the game with seven tackles and three sacks. That’s the most sacks by a Tech defender since whip linebacker Cam Martin had three against UNC way back in 2007.
Overall, the sack party went like this…
Quarterback Tom Savage played tough for Pitt, and didn’t turn the ball over despite constant pressure. However, except for a couple of deep balls to Devin Street that put the Panthers in scoring position, the Pitt offense was completely shut down by the Hokie defense in a role reversal of last season.
The Hokies only managed 315 yards of total offense, but they did control the ball for 34:11. They had the ball for over 12 minutes in the third quarter alone. Logan Thomas was 19-for-34 for 239 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. His 27 yard scoring strike to tight end Kalvin Cline in the corner of the endzone on Virginia Tech’s first drive was the Hokies’ only touchdown of the day.
Cline, Virginia Tech’s rapidly improving true freshman tight end who played just one season of high school football, finished with four catches for a career-high 65 yards and that touchdown. Demitri Knowles had five receptions for 79 yards, while Willie Byrn added four for 46.
This game came down to Cody Journell making field goals, and he did for the most part. Tech’s maligned kicker was 4-of-5 on the day, including a 42 yarder and a 48 yarder. He did miss from 33 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, Tech’s running game struggled again. There was no room on the interior against Pitt’s impressive defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Trey Edmunds had nine carries for just 13 yards, and that includes a 14 yard run. On his other eight carries, Edmunds totaled -1 yards.
J.C. Coleman did find some running room on jet sweeps to the outside, and he finished with six carries for 25 yards. As a team, Tech totaled just 76 rushing yards and averaged only two yards per carry.
On a bright note, the Virginia Tech offense went turnover free for the third consecutive game. Pitt also did not turn the ball over.
This was a 19-3 game late in the fourth quarter when Tom Savage completed a deep ball to Devin Street, and Savage later converted it into a touchdown. However, the two-point conversion attempt failed, and it was nearly returned by Tech’s Detrick Bonner for two points.
A.J. Hughes was a big weapon for the Hokies, averaging 52.8 yards on his four punts.
After three consecutive big wins over Coastal Division opponents, the Hokies will take a much-needed break next weekend. They’ll return to action on Saturday, October 26 when they host the Duke Blue Devils. Kickoff time and TV coverage will be announced on Monday.