The Virginia Tech Hokies invaded Heinz Field on Thursday night to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. The match up would give the victor the inside edge for the Coastal division title. Both teams entered the contest with identical 5-2 records, and the game had a late season feel from the opening kick. The Hokies received the toss and quickly marched down the field, but had to settle for a 31 yard Joey Slye field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. On the kickoff, Javonn Quillen scooped up a Quadree Henderson fumble, and the Hokies were in business. The Pitt defense was up to the task, and the Hokies could only muster a 21 yard Joey Slye boot, 6-0 Hokies.
The first time the Pitt offense saw the field, Nathan Peterman was under center. The Pitt offense was averaging 38 points a game, so the Hokies’ defense had work to do. Safety Mook Reynolds was up to the task, intercepting an errant throw to give the Hokies another great scoring opportunity. The Hokies, after the second Pitt turnover, set up shop on the Panthers’ 31. The Hokies were unable to convert the second giveaway into points, and the Hokies were forced to punt. The Hokies defense held strong, and got the ball AGAIN in positive territory.
Jerod Evans threw a bad pick, but a Pittsburgh offsides negated the play. Virginia Tech took advantage when Cam Phillips picked up a third down on a jet sweep. On a play that would be reviewed, Isaiah Ford pulled in a bouncing ball on a huge pass from Evans. The Hokies AGAIN were unable to convert, settling for a 22 yard Joey Slye FG to make it 9-0 Hokies. Coach Fuente and club were certainly disappointed with the red zone production, but it was a two score ballgame now.
Pittsburgh got things going offensively with their first 1st down of the game. Problem was, it was three minutes into the second quarter. The Hokies’ defense held, and Pitt was forced to punt again. The Panthers haven’t shownan anything offensively, outside of a sweet James Conner run, and the good guys had the ball again on the Virginia Tech 20. Virginia Tech had a huge play to Bucky Hodges, that was ultimately overturned, but the Hokies all the ‘Mo. What can only be described at this point as a habit, the Virginia Tech defense allowed an 84 yard drive. The drive was capped off with a James Conner TD scamper. After all the breaks, the Hokies only held a 9-7 lead late in the first quarter. The Conner TD was a gamechanger. The momentum had clearly shifted, and the Hokies needed to respond in a hurry. Virginia Tech di d just that. Jerod Evans hit some timely throws, and the Hokies were marching down the field, and with time running out in the half, the Hokies needed a touchdown. The Hokies did just that. when Chris Cunningham pulled into the Jerod Evans toss to make it 16-7 with just two minutes left in the half.
Then Pitt got serious with a 71 yard completion to Scott Orndoff, and suddenly the game was still being contested. James Conner punched in from 1 yard out and it was 16-14 Hokies. The feel of the game was one of disappointment, and the Hokie fans on social media were showing their displeasure.