For the second consecutive week the Pitt football team got a look at one of the nation’s most prolific rushing attacks.
For the second consecutive week the Panthers got a look at the triple option.
And for the second consecutive week the Pitt defense couldn’t get off the field late in the game as the Panthers dropped their second in a row, this time a 21-10 defeat to Georgia Tech in ACC Conference play.
However this time it was the pass that beat the Panthers.
Trailing 14-10 late in the fourth quarter, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald made two big plays to force the Yellow Jackets into a third-and-17 situation. However instead of getting the ball back with a chance to win the game, the Panthers inexplicably gave up a 42-yard pass play to all but ice the game.
Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee threw one up for grabs off his back foot, but Lee’s prayer was answered when DeAndre Smelter came up with the ball over a pair of Panthers’ defenders.
Two plays later the Yellow Jackets put the finishing touches on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that broke the Panthers back when Robert Godhigh scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to make it a 21-10 game.
Godhigh ran for two touchdowns on the evening while Georgia Tech’s defense recorded a season-high five sacks as they tortured Pitt quarterback Tom Savage all night long. Most of the pressure came from Jeremiah Attaochu, who had two sacks, three tackles for loss and hit Savage on numerous other occasions.
The Yellow Jackets got off to a good start, pounding the ball down the Panthers throat on their first two drives to the tune of 209 yards of total offense on their first four drives to take a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
David Sims scored on a 12-yard run to make it 7-0 after Tech’s first drive and Godhigh scored on a 35-yard scamper halfway through the second quarter.
Meanwhile the Tech defense shut down the Pitt offense.
The Panthers went without a first down throughout the first quarter and managed only 55 yards of total offense in the first half.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst elected to stick with the running game but it was unproductive as they were held to minus-five yards rushing on 21 carries as a team on the night.
Things changed in the second half though as Savage got hot and was able to get rid of the ball quickly before the Tech pass rush could get to him.
Savage threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Tyler Boyd on the Panthers’ first possession of the second half, cutting Georgia Tech’s lead to 14-10.
Meanwhile the Pitt defense started to figure out the triple option as after allowing the 209 yards on Georgia Tech’s first four drives, they limit the Yellow Jackets to only 71 yards of total offense the rest of the game before allowing the 80-yard touchdown drive to put the game away.
A lot of that had to do with Donald, who was a beast.
The All-American candidate recorded 11 tackles, one sack and forced two fumbles, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as the Panthers dropped to 4-4 on the season (2-3 ACC).
Savage completed 25 of 37 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That interception came on the Panthers final drive of the game when the senior led Pitt on a final long drive after Godhigh’s second scoring run.
Savage’s final pass was intercepted by safety Jemea Thomas at the Georgia Tech 4 with 33 seconds remaining.
Boyd led all Pitt receivers with 11 receptions for 118 yards.
Pitt will try and break their mini losing streak and try to get back on the right path to becoming bowl eligible when they host Notre Dame Saturday at Heinz Field.