The Virginia Tech Hokies invaded Pittsburgh to face the Panthers for each team’s sixth game of the season. The Hokies received the ball and their opening drive looked promising when VT QB, Grant Wells, hit WR, Kaleb Smith, for a 28-yard gain, carrying Virginia Tech into Pittsburgh Panthers territory. But a short run and two incomplete passes forced the punt, and the Hokies pinned the Panthers on their five-yard line. The Virginia Tech defense showed up big, shutting down Pitt RB, Israel Abanikanda, and almost got the safety before the Pat Narduzzi coached squad punted short and the Hokies offense started on the Pitt 38-yard line. Nick Gallo had an ugly drop when Wells hit him in the hands, with room to run. The VT field goal unit trotted out and then pre-snap penalties took the Hokies out of field goal range and Peter Moore pinned the Panthers deep with his second punt of the game. Starting from their five-yard line, Pittsburgh drove 95 yards, down the throat of the Virginia Tech defense, and Abanikanda scored on a 38-yard touchdown run. On their ensuing drive the Hokies quickly found themselves in Pitt territory, for the third time in the first quarter, when Wells hit Smith deep, again, for 37 yards. Malachi Thomas made his appearance for the first time this year and his first carry was a doozy! A power run up the middle for a five-yard TD run. The point after was blocked and Pitt retained the lead, 7-6.
The VT defense shook off the poor performance during the Panther’s scoring drive had held them to a three-and-out. Wells and Thomas ran their way into Pitt territory before the start of the second quarter. Pitt had a fantastic defensive goal-line stand and held the Hokies to a field goal. The Panthers then graciously returned the ball when a Slovis pass was tipped, and Jenkins made an athletic diving interception. Keshawn King then ran 19-yards for his second touchdown of the season and the Hokies’ second touchdown of the day, putting VT up 16-7. Pitt shrunk the deficit off of a drive that featured some terrible Virginia Tech tackling, culminating in a 17-yard Abanikanda TD run he had no business making after being hit behind the line of scrimmage. After a bad 28-yard Peter Moore punt (his leg must be tired after all the punting he’s done this season) Pitt had a short field and retook the lead, 17-16, with a 47-yard field goal. VT drove within field goal range, but a facemask penalty pushed them out of range and the half ended with a Hail Mary interception from Wells. Pittsburgh received the ball to start the second half.
I would not have believed you if you told me the Hokies would be in this game. Overall, great to see some serious effort and improvement, especially on the offense.
The VT defensive line has had moments of stonewalling the Pitt rushing attack, but have mostly struggled to stop Pitt RB, Israel Abanikanda, while failing to sack QB, Kedon Slovis, the entire first half.
Malachi Thomas showed just how good he is and how much he changes the ability of this VT offense.
The offensive line seems to be making progress. Certainly, a player of Thomas’ caliber will help the rushing attack, but the offensive line also seems to be making some progress in the run blocking department.
Hokies still committing costly penalties, especially pre-snap. Six penalties for 49 yards.
The Hokies have outgained the Pitt offense, 235-181, and the defense is winning the turnover battle.