By: Joey Raymond
Headline Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network
Blacksburg, VA—On an absolutely beautiful night in Blacksburg the Pitt Panthers and the Virginia Tech Hokies clash in a battle of 1 and 3 teams. Each of these teams has nowhere to go but up from here. Tonight is white-out night and military appreciation night which is always a big deal night for the Hokies. Both teams look to “right the ship” and get back to winning football. The excitement for both of these squads has dropped dramatically over the past couple of weeks, with both teams losing their last three games. Pitt comes into this one after losing big against North Carolina. Virginia Tech comes in losing a close game against Marshall. We’ll see whose luck can change in this one.
First Quarter Recap:
Lane Stadium is at a fever pitch after ‘Enter Sandman’ and an incredible flyover, as both teams are roaring to go in this one. Virginia Tech will kick off to Pittsburgh as they won the toss and deferred to the second half. Pitt starts with the ball, they go three and out on the first drive of the game. Kyron Drones and Company then get a turn. The Hokies go on an absolute tear to start the game, running several times before Drones unleashes a massive 54-yard bomb to Felton who finds his way into the end zone. The Hokies take a very quick 7-0 lead. Pitt responds so fast the Hokies can’t even blink, as Jurkovec throws a 75-yard touchdown pass to Means, tying the game up at 7. The Hokies and Panthers would go three and out on their next drives. Next drive for the Hokies, the Hokies would get the ball moving to midfield before Pitt slams the door. Pitt’s turn again, they get to midfield as well, go for it on fourth down, and get called for a delay of game. Pitt couldn’t get the ball off, as Jurkovec couldn’t communicate with his offense because of the noise. Pitt is then forced to punt. The Hokies hand it to Tuten, who barrels through, heading to the 29-yard line. The Hokies also get a fourth down and go for it, they convert, thanks to a quarterback sneak from Drones. The Hokies will get into the red zone, as the time expires, leaving us with a 7-7 tie, to end the quarter.
Second Quarter Recap:
The Hokies continue their drive, starting at the 18-yard line, on third down. Tuten would get the Hokies the first down. The Hokies would then take all 3 downs to find the end zone. Kyron Drones would keep the ball, and run it for a touchdown. This gives the Hokies a 14-7 lead. Pitt gets the ball and quickly gets to third down, and gets another delay of game, thanks to the noise in Lane Stadium. They would go three and out after throwing an incomplete pass. The Hokies’ next drive would go good at first, then the Hokies got some costly penalties, slowing them down to a point where they had to punt. The Panthers’ next drive would go very well to start. They got several good runs, working their way to the 33-yard line before the Hokies put a stop to it. Pitt would then attempt a 51-yard field goal and miss it wide left by a hair, keeping the score at 14-7. The Hokies get the ball back, and immediately Pitt commits a pass interference penalty, giving the Hokies a free 15 yards. The Hokies would continue the drive, going for it on fourth down at one point, and converting, getting themselves into the red zone. Tuten would then break the ankles of every Pitt defender en route to a Virginia Tech touchdown, giving the Hokies a 21-7 lead. Pitt would try to score by running a couple of plays, and getting to the 46-yard line, throwing a hail mary, which results in an incomplete. The half would end with a score of 21-7.
Third Quarter Recap:
The Hokies receive the ball to start the half after deferring to the second half. They’ll start the drive at the 25-yard line, thanks to a touchback from Pitt. The Hokies would shoot themselves in the foot, getting some penalties and having to punt it away. Pitt would not fare much better on their turn with the ball, the Hokies got a sack and forced fumble, giving them the ball at the 9-yard line. The Hokies take all 3 downs but work their way into the end zone thanks to a massive run from Kyron Drones. This gives the Hokies a huge 28-7 lead. Pitt tries to respond and does extremely quickly, scoring on a 61-yard screen pass. Pitt inches closer and shows some signs of life, bringing the score to 28-14. The Hokies would get the ball and fumble immediately, Pitt picks it up and walks it into the end zone for a touchdown. The Panthers are making this a football game, bringing the score to 28-21. The Hokies would try again, as momentum is definitely on the side of Pitt. The air has been completely let out of the stadium, and the silence in Lane Stadium is deafening. The Hokies would end up having to punt away, much to the disgust of the crowd. The noise does come back a bit, as the Hokies force the Panthers to punt on their next drive. The Hokies bring life back into the building thanks to a 53-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive. The Drones to Lane connection gives the Hokies a 35-21 lead. Pitt would get a chance to respond, they struggled too, getting a false start, then almost getting a delay of game, but got bailed out by a called timeout. Lane Stadium reaches the loudest volume of the half as Pitt fails to convert on third down, forcing them to punt. This also ends the insanity that was the third quarter.
Fourth Quarter Recap:
Virginia Tech gets to start the fourth quarter with the ball and a fresh 15 minutes. The Hokies start the drive on a very methodical, calculated run effort. They gained 11 yards on the first 3 plays of the drive, all runs. The Hokies continue the drive, getting into the red zone, and ultimately are forced to settle for a field goal, as they can’t punch it into the end zone. Love’s field goal attempt is perfect, going right down the middle, giving the Hokies a 38-21 lead. Most importantly for the Hokies, they took just under nine minutes off of the clock, giving Pitt the ball back with only 6:06 left on the clock. Pitt would get the ball and get 2 false starts to start the drive. Pitt continued to struggle, they did gain a couple of first downs to grab a little momentum, but time was draining off the clock. Jurkovec would then get sacked 2 plays in a row, losing a total of 17 yards. On third down, Pitt would get yet another delay of the game, as Lane Stadium hit its highest decibel levels all game. The Panthers would not convert on third down and have to go for it on fourth down, for any shot to win this game. Pitt can’t convert on the fourth and twenty play, giving the Hokies the ball. The Hokies would run the football on the next couple of plays, getting a first down, sealing the game for the Hokies. The Hokies kneel it down, the clock hits all zeros and the final score in this one is 38 to 21.
What’s Next and Post-Game Thoughts:
I’m pretty sure that you could have asked any expert coming into this one, and no one would have predicted as high a scoring of a final as this. The Hokies offense clicked and took off and except for a brief moment in the third quarter, really put the pedal to the metal in this one. The other big surprise for me? Virginia Tech’s defense held Pitt’s offense to only 38 yards on the ground. The Hokies have struggled with that all season, and against a Pitt team that has been successful this season running the football. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that Drones has won himself the starting job, scoring 5 total touchdowns, 3 in the air, and 2 on the ground. He only fumbled the ball once, which is a risk you take with his style of football. Lastly, the Hokies need to keep feeding Tuten the ball. Bayshul is a problem for defenses, especially in open spaces when he can showcase his skillset.
Pitt will head back to Pittsburgh with an extremely tough challenge ahead of them. Louisville comes to town, not having lost a game yet, and is feeling good after a win against NC State. I know Pitt is feeling it after some major injuries to their offensive line, but if they’re going to win that one they’ll need someone to step up and get more than 38 yards rushing the football. The Hokies are feeling high right now, but are about to get humbled quickly, as they go on the road to number 5 ranked Florida State. I’m a firm believer that the Hokies will need a miracle in Tallahassee to pull a win out down there, but if the offense clicks like they did in this one? Who knows what’s possible? College football is a really funny sport that way.