Associated Press: Dadi Nicolas and Jack Tyler sack Pittsburgh quarterback, Tom Savage.
Needless to say, Saturday night was probably one of the longest lasting games Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage has ever experienced in his young career. Virginia Tech’s defense blizted from all directions, rushed from all ways and tore apart the Pitt offense piece by piece in a 19-9 victory, moving up Virginia Tech into the No. 24 position in the polls.
With the Hokies’ defense playing the best it ever has this season, Virginia Tech finished Saturday’s game with a season-high eight sacks, which also included a career-high three sacks coming from defensive end Dadi Nicolas. The stone-cold Tech defense also held the Panthers to a mere 210 yards for the night. The eight sacks was the most sacks the Hokies have had since a 2006 win over Duke, the Hokies were credited with seven other hits on Savage as well. The victory over Pitt leads the Hokies into their bye week battling with Miami for the ACC’s Coastal Division top position. The two teams will not meet up with each other until November 9th in South Florida.
Pittsburgh (3-2,2-2 ACC) had six totals drives that didn’t come up with a first down, punted the ball eight times Saturday night and recorded negative yards for the entirety of the third quarter. Despite a 48-yard completion to wide receiver Devin Street at the final minutes of the first half and a 76-yard scoring drive late in the game, the Panthers only managed to average out to just less than 2 yards per play.
Shortly after Savage’s nine-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Hokies’ defensive line continuously pressured the quarterback and stripped the ball on the two-point conversion attempt. Although the tackle for a loss wasn’t credited in the box score, it was a prime example of how powerful the Virginia Tech defense has been this season thus far.
Savage, who just returned back from a concussion he got in the Virginia game, only completed 13 of his 28 pass attempts for 187 yards. The Panthers were only able to rush for 23 yards against the Hokies’ defense.
It is easy enough to say that the Hokies’ needed to get out to an early lead after Virginia Tech lost to Pitt last year 35-17. The early lead came from Logan Thomas whose very rocky start to the season has finally turned in the right direction. Thomas finished 19 of 34 passes for a total of 239 yards. He completed his only touchdown pass on Tech’s opening possession, throwing a 27-yard bomb to freshman tight end Kalvin Cline (career-high four catches for 65 yards total). The most amazing aspect of this game you may ask? Logan Thomas who threw three interceptions against Pitt last season went turnover-free for the Hokie’s third game so far this season.
If it wasn’t for four drives that ended up stalled within the Pittsburgh 25-yard line, Virginia Tech had the possibility to make the game a blow out. Instead, the Hokies took three second-half field goals by place kicker Cody Journell (who also went way wide on a 33-yard attempt in the third). Despite Journell’s recent struggles, he made a career-long 48-yard attempt in the first quarter to put the Hokies up another three points.
“I think we left some yards out there. We left some completions out there,” Beamer said. “When we look at it, there’s gonna be a lot of plays that you could look at and say . . . ‘we should’ve got this ball in the end zone.”
Without surprise due to their fantastic start, Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 ACC) has become bowl eligible for their 21st consecutive season, but this time the Hokies were able to get it out of their way early on into their season. If anyone can’t remember, it took a game-winning field goal in their last regular season game in order to clinch a playoff spot last year. But the Hokies can accredit a majority of their success to their defense, who has shown to be one of the best in the nation.
“We just played hard and played aggressive. We took what we was given,” defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins had to say about the victory.
The Virginia Tech Hokies will be going into their bye week undefeated in the ACC with their only loss this season going to Alabama Crimson Tide in the season opener. Hokies will battle their rivals Duke at home on October 26th.
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