Panthers Roar 47-14

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Pitt Panther (Photo Credit: Vince Butts-UMT Sports)

                                    Pitt Manhandles Va. Tech 47-14

[Pittsburgh,PA] The objective for College Football Senior Day is for the home team to not only get a win on the field, but to also send the Seniors (who’re playing their last home) game off on a high note in front of their families and fans.

The Pitt Panthers football team was able to accomplish both as they thoroughly defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies at Heinz Field.

 

“You know, that football team we’ve got in the locker room, I think we traveled 69 (in uniform today), which is below what we would normally take to a football game.” Said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “Obviously we got hit with COVID coming back from Tallahassee somehow, some way. I don’t know what happened. But I couldn’t be prouder of this football team.

You know, you look at what we did this week in practice, and our coaches did a heck of a job. Happy for our seniors. Senior day, that’s how you let your seniors go out. Those 10 that walked and had senior day today, I just couldn’t be more proud of those guys and what they did today. It was a gutsy win by our football team. They never blinked. They didn’t worry. They believed.”

 

Several of those Pitt Seniors played a hand in this victory: QB Kenny Pickett as he passed for 404 yards (35/52), 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD and an interception. And 15 of Pickett’s passes went to fellow senior DJ Turner who also had a career-high 184 yards and a 64-yard TD. Turner’s 15 catches are the 2nd-most in a game in Pitt history. RB AD Davis made his final home game a memorable one as he rushed for 80 yards (on 12 carries) and a TD. Another Senior who left his mark on this game was WR Tre’ Tipton who caught 4 passes for 38 yards. On defense, DB Jason Pinnock recorded the 5th interception of his career early in the 3rd quarter.

“It’s 2020; some crazy things happen. AJ Davis had a heck of a ballgame, as well.” Said Narduzzi. “You wouldn’t believe 2020; at 9:00 this morning he had a root canal. I was like, we’re going to get him a root canal on game day. That’s just the way the season has gone. I told him, hey, you’re getting a root canal, we’re going to talk about your root canal after this game, after you win and rush for 100 — he didn’t quite get 100, but that’s adversity.”

Regarding Turner, Narduzzi replied “He was phenomenal. We didn’t have Jordan Addison, and he took over that slot position, which I think the last time he did it we should have beat North Carolina State, if I recall. DJ is a football player. Senior day for him. He was outstanding, making people miss and just getting the tough yards. He had some big conversions on 3rd down.”

 


And regarding Pickett: “You know, the best thing about Kenny besides his arm and his feet and the way he can run is he’s a leader.” Said Narduzzi “We’re going to dearly miss Kenny Pickett in another year, but we’ll have a lot of time. Hopefully we’ll get a spring practice this year and develop the rest of the guys. But he’s a leader. He’s tough. He makes our offense tick.”

Although he will be back next year, Redshirt Senior Alex Kessman also left his mark as he kicked 4 FGs, 2 from beyond 50 yards (53, 52) and is now 11 of 17 from 50+ yards in his career. That conversion rate of 64.7% is currently the best percentage in NCAA history among those who have attempted 15 or more from 50-plus yards.

At one point, It almost seemed like Kessman was going to do all the scoring for Pitt as his foot got them to a 9-0 lead in the first half. And after a Hokies TD which would close their lead to 9- 7, Pickett finally got the Panthers into the end zone RB Vincent Davis would score from the 1- yard line. After the Hokies would score yet again, Pickett would lead the Panthers down the field and into the end zone again as he found Freshman WR Jaylen Barden for an 11-yard score to close the first half.

In the second half it was all Pitt as they would score 17 points in the 3rd quarter and 7 in the 4th, while the Hokies wouldn’t score the rest of the game. With the win, the Panthers would improve to 5-4 (4-4 ACC) on the season and secure a 2-game winning streak for the first time since late September-early October.

 


As impressive as Pitt’s offense was, their defense was just as impressive as they only allowed 14 points (all in the first half) intercepted Hokies QB Hendon Hooker (13-22, 260, TD, INT) once, and sacked him 2 times. (Both by redshirt JR LB Cam Bright)

All-in-all, it was a complete game effort by the Panthers.

So now the Panthers will travel to Death Valley to face #4 Clemson (7-1, 6-1 ACC). It will be the first time the Panthers have played their since their stunning 43-42 upset in 2016. It will also be the first time that the Panthers have played the Tigers since 2018 when they lost to them 42- 10 in the ACC Championship Game.

 

Like their final home game, the Panthers hope to finish their season on a high note.

“We’ve got a big one next week, and we’ve just got to gather ourselves, be smart tonight and hopefully come back a little bit more loaded than we were this week.” Said Narduzzi.

Notes: 16 Pitt players missed the game due to COVID-related protocols, Virginia Tech had 12 players miss the game for the same reason.

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