Pitt Football: Panthers Outlast Virginia Tech To Stop Losing Streak


PITTSBURGH – The Pitt Panthers defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 21-16 in an ACC contest Thursday at Heinz Field to move to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in conference.

“We needed it bad,” Quarterback Chad Voytik said. “I got emotional after the game because I knew how big this win was and I know how hard our players worked. It was on ESPN meaning that the stage was big so it felt amazing to get the win.”

Panthers quarterback Chad Voytik ran for 106 yards and threw for 92 yards and a touchdown, while tailback James Conner had 86 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd had 86 receiving yards and a touchdown. Defensively Reggie Miller led Pitt with nine tackles. David Durham, Rori Blair and Nicholas Grigsby each had a sack.

“We called more runs and options for Chad,” said head coach Paul Chryst. “We thought that was something that could provide a spark to the offense. We got to the point where it was certainly something we wanted to do more of.”

Pitt scored first on a seven play 86 yard drive. Conner was responsible for the first five plays rushing 27 yards. Quarterback Voytik then ran for six before finding wide receiver Boyd for a 53 yard touchdown which included a couple of moves to shake the Hokie defenders which included Kendall Fuller who in his sophomore year has already been recognized as one of the best cornerbacks in the game.

“I feel like I am being watched by everybody I play against,” Boyd said. “It’s my job to go out there, play my game and make the most plays that I can to help my team win.”

The Panthers dominated the first quarter as evidenced by its 144-7 advantage in total yards. Pitt allowed a scoring opportunity to pass it by in the first and this continued into the second quarter when the Panthers started on the Virginia Tech 35 yard line, and lost six yards coming away with no points.

Virginia Tech first got on the board when it returned a 47 yard punt 38 yards to the Pitt 32. While the drive stalled, kicker Joey Slye connected on a field goal from 42 yards.

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The next few minutes proved to be a hectic time. First Conner was said to have fumbled on a third down play, however his arm was down after further review, so the call was reversed. With 6:05 to play in the second quarter, Virginia Tech got its first first down of the game which showed how dominant the Pitt defense was in the first half to that point.

While this occurred the rain picked up and it seemed to rattle the Hokie offense. Quarterback Michael Brewer threw a completion fumbled and recovered by Durham. The referee ruled Durham out of bounds on the play negating the Panthers fumble recovery. The play was challenged and quickly ruled an incomplete pass.

On the very next play, the Hokies fumbled this time recovered by K.K. Mosley-Smith of the Panthers. Pitt would score on the drive with a Conner 15 yard run.

Virginia Tech added another Slye field goal as time expired in the first half, this time from 24 yards out to cut the Panthers lead to 14-6.

The Hokies outplayed the Panthers in the third quarter outgaining Pitt 87-3. Its reward was a Slye 21 yard field goal cutting the deficit to five at quarter’s end.

Pitt created separation in the fourth quarter needing only two plays that took 37 seconds. The first came on a 49 yard rush by Voytik and the final play was a 13 yard run by Conner.

Virginia Tech came up empty on its next drive and Pitt took over driving deep into Hokie territory. Chris Blewitt’s 38 yard kick was blocked, his first miss after making nine consecutive attempts to start the season.

Virginia Tech brought the game to five points with a 14 yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Cam Phillips. The Hokies had an opportunity to take the lead but the drive ended on the Panthers 49 yard line securing the Pitt win.

Pitt will next host Georgia Tech in an ACC game Saturday Oct. 25 which starts at 3:30 p.m. Virginia Tech will play a home game Thursday Oct. 23 against Miami at 8 p.m.

He said it: “It’s just one of those things. You can look at our record against other teams and you’ll notice it is better. I can’t pinpoint one thing though. I like the stadium and the fans. There are a lot of good football players that come out of this area. I like to recruit kids from Pennsylvania because I think they’re tough. Other than that, my team just needed to play well. We didn’t do that.” – Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer on his team’s 0-4 record at Heinz Field.

Of note: Conner spoke with Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch hours before the game. Conner looks up to Lynch and made the switch from jersey number 40 to 24 because of his admiration for the running back… 28 NFL teams sent scouts for this game.