CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA–One week after ending a two-game losing streak vs. Nationally Ranked Syracuse, the Pitt Panthers were hoping to continue the wins and become Bowl Eligible for the 7th time in 8 seasons. To do that, they would have to travel to Scott Stadium to face the Virginia Cavaliers. And for the Panthers, it was mission accomplished as they routed the Cavaliers 37-7 to improve their record to 6-4 (3-3 ACC).
“Nice team win again. I thought our defense played outstanding,” said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “It kinda was a follow-up from last week. Great job by the d-line.”
It was another superb performance by the Panthers’ defense as they imposed their will on the Cavaliers from the start of the game. CB M.J. Devonshire intercepted Brennan Armstrong’s first pass and returned it 29 yards for a TD, and when they got the ball back, Marquis Williams returned Brennan’s 2nd pass for 39 yards for a TD, giving the Panthers a 14-0 lead after 2 plays and 16 seconds.
“That’s how you start fast on defense,” Narduzzi commented. “Great, great plays by both those guys.”
The defense also continued to make Armstrong’s life miserable by sacking him 8 times (3 by DT Calijah Kancey), holding Virginia’s running game to -8 yards. Their only blemish was giving up a late TD, but it obviously had no effect on the outcome.
Pitt’s offense was impressive, as well as RB Israel Abinakanda returned to rush for 121 on 24 carries and a TD. Backup RB Rodney Hammond Jr. added 39, C’Bo Flemister added 38 as the team finished with 189 total yards rushing.
QB Kedon Slovis also had an improved performance as he passed for 208 yards (14/24) and a TD to WR Bub Means (3 Rec, 90 yards) and threw for no interceptions. After scoring 28 points in the first quarter, K Ben Sauls provided the 2nd half points with 3 field goals.
“We might be getting ready for an ACC championship game if we didn’t turn the ball over this season. We did a good job today,” Narduzzi said.
For the Cavaliers, Armstrong finished passing for 152 yards, a TD, and 2 interceptions. WR Malachi Fields led the team with 5 receptions for 58 yards and their lone TD.
The Panthers will now travel back to Pittsburgh to face a good Duke Blue Devils team (7-3, 4-2 ACC). Although their chances at repeating as ACC Champions have ended, they have a chance at finishing strong and securing a significant Bowl Game.
“It doesn’t mean anything. We assumed we’d be in a bowl when we started the season,” Narduzzi remarked.
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