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Hokies Pummel Pitt QB, Take 19-9 Win

Virginia Tech's defense ran wild in the Pittsburgh backfield, sacking quarterback Tom Savage eight times and coming close a handful of other times. In the end, the field goals of Cody Journell proved to be the difference as the Hokies beat Pittsburgh for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps we're used to games like this. The defense is dominant and controls the game, making life a living hell for the opposing offense. The offense? That's another story. Actually, it's the same old story.

Pitt chose to take the ball first and a quick three-and-out aided by a Kyle Fuller pass break up on third down forced the Panthers to punt. Tech started its opening drive from its own 29-yard line and took it the full distance for seven points, capped by a 27-yard pass by Logan Thomas to Kalvin Cline for a touchdown on 3rd-and-9. Thomas earlier completed a pass to Cline for 18 yards and tallied 55 yards through the air on three passes.

After another Pitt three-and-out, Tech drove to the Pittsburgh 29 before the engines stalled twice with two yards to gain for a first down. Cody Journell hit a career-long field goal from 48 yards out to give the Hokies a 10-0 lead with under five minutes to play in the first quarter. The Hokies were aided earlier on the drive by a very questionable personal foul play on third down that gave the Tech drive new life.

But the Tech offense sputtered and came to a halt with the next three drives ending in a punt.

Pitt finally got on the board at the end of the first half with a 51-yard drive that ended in a 47-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt, who did not blow it. On that drive, Pitt quarterback Tom Savage was sacked three times but a 48-yard completion to Devin Street did enough damage.

Tech took the opening drive of the second half to the Pitt 19 before, you guessed it, coming to a screeching halt. The big play of the drive was a 40-yard completion to Demitri Knowles on 3rd-and-10 and then an 18-yard completion to Knowles again on a 3rd-and-11.

Another three-and-out by Pitt gave the Hokies the ball at their own 31 and several solid plays had the offense chugging along until inside the Pitt 30, where the drive came to a halt yet again and Journell banged a 42-yard field goal through to put Tech up 16-3.

Later in the fourth quarter, Tech started in Pitt territory following a failed conversion on fourth down by the Panthers, but the Hokies were again unable to capitalize as they failed to convert from two yards out and eventually needed a 23-yard field goal from Journell.

Tech played lax coverage on the ensuing Pitt drive and a 33-yard pass to Devin Street put the Panthers at the Tech 9-yard line. Savage, who had been running backwards all day, ran it for a 9-yard touchdown to cut into the Tech lead.

A failed onside kick gave the Hokies the ball and a running into the kicker penalty extended the Tech drive long enough to run out the clock.

Ugly on offense, but strong on defense. What's new?

Quick thoughts (heavily focused on defense):

  • I really can't say enough about the performance by the defense. Week in and week out they control one aspect of the game in a dominant fashion. Try to plan for the cornerbacks picking balls off? The defensive line will--in Frank's words--get after you. Try to block the defensive line? The corners will get the time to read your passes. Pick your poison.
  • Hello, bowl eligibility. There's still a long way to go this season, but hey, I'll gladly welcome that.
  • Dadi Nicolas was nearly unstoppable. He lined up at whip on occasion, as a down lineman on others. It didn't matter, he was making a play every time that he was on the field. Nicolas was (unofficially) credited with three, but that's depending how you look at the ones that are broken into half-sacks.
  • The stats unfortunately don't include Savage getting crushed on the two-point conversion and fumbling the ball that was picked up by Detrick Bonner and nearly returned for 2-points.
  • Tech actually held the edge in time of possession by a sizeable chunk, 34:11 to 25:49. Neat. I guess sacking the quarterback a billion times can do that.
  • The VT defense held Pitt to 19 yards in the first quarter and then -6 yards in the third quarter. Overall, they limited Pitt to 210 total yards and just 23 yards on the ground. I guess you could also say that Pitt held Virginia Tech to 315 yards and 76 on the ground.
  • Speaking of, this running game is bad. I'm not going to dissect it, nor try to offer any thoughts on solutions. It's just bad. (That and they're not going to listen to me).
  • You know what I liked about Logan Thomas' performance this game? He hit some big passes when needed and largely avoided any dangerous throws. He was consistent and safe when running the ball. He didn't turn the ball over and that's a big part of getting a win each week.
  • Aaron Donald may be as good as advertised, but Derrick Hopkins is better in my opinion. You double-team Derrick Hopkins? He don't currrr, he's still getting in the backfield.
  • James Gayle auditioning for the role of flying trapeze guy lately.
  • Good for Journell getting his leg back. That's not sarcasm either, we need him. Obviously.
  • I like Kalvin Cline more and more each week. He's able to get open in coverage and his hands are pretty solid. Cline hauled in four passes for 65 yards and the 27-yard touchdown.
  • Kyshoen Jarrett hits like a train. Despite what the announcers said, I don't think that qualifies as targeting. His feet were on the ground at the point of contact and he made primary contact with his shoulder pad, not his helmet. Sorry bros. I mean look at this: