Pitt Football Fumbles Away Key ACC Coastal Division Game Against Georgia Tech


On a comfortable, late October football afternoon, the Pitt Panthers had a chance to create some separation from the rest of the ACC Coastal Division pack.

In front of a large Homecoming crowd, Pitt made it into the record books for the wrong reason. Pitt lost 5 fumbles in its first five possessions, all in the first quarter.  This tied a record for most lost fumbles in a quarter in FBS history (1980 East Carolina vs. UL-Lafayette, 1982 San Diego State vs. Cal).

With only 5 minutes gone in the first quarter, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets led 28-0, and the game was essentially already decided. Pitt would go on to lose 56-28, falling to 4-4 overall with a 2-2 ACC record and an extremely disappointed fan base.

For Pitt, Chad Voytik was 15 of 20 for 193 yards, and Trey Anderson was 8 of 15 for 135 yards and a TD. James Conner had 10 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns, and Tyler Boyd had nine receptions for 137 yards.  Pitt amassed 526 total yards of offense, but the Panthers committed six fumbles, all of which were lost.  On defense, senior linebacker Todd Thomas was the lone bright spot, with a career-high 13 tackles.

For Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2 ACC), Justin Thomas was only 5 for 10 for 147 yards and 1 TD. Synjyn Days rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries, Thomas rushed for 92 yards and 1 TD, and Broderick Snoddy rushed for 82 yards and 3 TDs on only 6 carries.

On the second play of the game, Pitt sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik ran for 9 yards and fumbled on the Pitt 38 yard-line. On Georgia Tech’s third play, running back Broderick Snoddy punched it in from 4 yards out to give the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead.

On Pitt’s first play of its next possession, sophomore running back James Conner ran 74 yards, which appeared to be a touchdown. Unfortunately, Conner was stripped at the GT 1-yard line and fumbled into the end zone for a touchback.  GT then responded with a 79-yard Justin Thomas touchdown pass to Charles Perkins to make it 14-0.

For Pitt, Isaac Bennett then fumbled on the Pitt 14 yard line, and GT quarterback Justin Thomas immediately scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0.

At the 10:40 mark of the first quarter (Yes, not even 5 minutes into the game), Pitt sophomore wide receiver Tyler Boyd fumbled after an 11-yard pass, and Snoddy capitalized with a 34-yard TD run to make it a 28-0 historical laugher.

The Panthers finally strung a few plays together, but then Voytik fumbled and the crowd reamined in shock and disappointment. Luckily, Pitt held GT on 4th and 2 and made it out of the first quarter 28-0.

Not many teams can dig themselves out of a 28-0 deficit 5 minutes into a football game. A Pitt 10-play drive was capped off by a Conner 1-yard rushing TD to make it 28-7.  The Yellow Jackets were forced to punt, and Pitt sophomore running back Rachid Ibrahim broke open a 50-yard rush.  Conner punched it in from 4-yards to cut the lead to 28-14.

Georgia Tech punted again, and Pitt had a golden opportunity. Unfortunately, Pitt was stopped at the GT 44-yard line and elected to punt on fourth and 3.

With some hope after halftime, the Panthers nationally –ranked fourth defense couldn’t stop the nationally-ranked fifth rushing attack from GT, and Snoddy scored on a 28-yard touchdown to make it 35-14 and essentially seal the game.

Oct 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back James Conner (24) rushes the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Conner responded with a 16-yard run to make it 35-21, but then GT went on a long 16-play, 68-yard drive, consuming nearly 9 minutes of game clock. Though Synjyn Days fumbled and Pitt recovered deep in their own end, the Panthers could not capitalize nor gain a single first down.

Following a Pitt punt, Tony Zenon ran 57 yards on the first play for a Yellow Jackets TD and a 42-21 lead. Pitt then fumbled again on their own 8-yard line, and Deon Hill capitalized with an 8-yard TD run, making it a painful 49-21 advantage.

With ten minutes to go, Pitt decided to change quarterbacks, and Trey Anderson threw a 35-yard TD to Isaac Bennett. On the ensuing GT drive, Matt Connors punched it in from 6 yards out to make it a 56-28 blowout.

In a game with so much on the line, it is simply unacceptable to commit 5 fumbles in the first quarter, burying yourself into a 28-0 hole. The Pitt that showed up today was the same identity of the squad that was embarrassed by Akron and knocked into a 24-3 hole at Virginia.

A day after making my Pitt predictions to finish out the season, I feel that I need to further revise my thoughts after witnessing the game today at Heinz Field.  If Pitt continues to play like this, they may only be able to beat Syracuse.


Pitt will host Duke next Saturday, which may seal Pitt’s fate in the ACC Coastal Division.