It wasn't the prettiest game for either team. But as we all know, wins don't have to be pretty, any Pitt has certainly had enough of those type of wins over the years.
Pitt topped Virginia 14-3 to improve to 3-1 on the year, 2-1 in ACC play.
The Panthers capitalized on a pair of Virginia turnovers, and a pair of big receptions from Devin Street and Tyler Boyd. Boyd finished with seven catches for 111 yards--his third consecutive 100-yard game, and the first Pitt receiver to do so since Antonio Bryant did in 1999.
And that was pretty much the only highlight for Pitt. The Panthers offensive line allowed seven sacks. The offense as a whole, turned the ball over three times.
"Our defense played really well," Chryst said. "They brought a lot of energy. Certainly, those early turnovers were a key. We were able to cash in on them. It was certainly good and we appreciate the victory. There were a lot of good performances on defense, but mostly I felt everyone was doing their job. The players were cutting loose and that was good to see.”
Virginia turned it over twice. Even when given the ball, the Cavaliers could do nothing with any opportunity. Pitt's ability to convert a pair of turnovers into touchdowns, and a couple big plays from their receivers was enough to make the difference.
Pitt jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Aside from a 59-10 loss to Oregon, this was a Virginia team that held BYU to 16 points, and a team that shut out VMI last week.
Trenton Coles recovered a fumble on a punt return. His recovery set Pitt up at the Virginia 30. Conner took it in from six yards out for his fourth touchdown of the season. Pitt led 7-0 with a little over five and a half minutes left in the opening quarter.
On the next drive, Virginia quarterback David Watford simply dropped the ball, on a third down play. Pitt recovered at the Virginia 18 yard-line. It took just two plays for Tom Savage to connect with Street for his first touchdown pass of the game. Boyd ran a perfect crossing route, allowing Street to get to the corner of the end zone. Pitt led 14-0, with a little over two minutes left in the first quarter.
Demetrious Nicholson gave Virginia some hope. He picked off a pass from Savage, after is coverage led him to the ball. The Cavaliers took over at the Pitt 30. Yet, because of no vertical passing threat, could not move the ball. Facing a 4th-and-short just a few plays later, Todd Thomas came up and stopped Kevin Parks on a run, giving the ball back to the Panthers.
Three weeks in a row Thomas has come up with a big stop to give Pitt the ball--two blocked punts in back-to-back weeks, and a stop on fourth down today.
Pitt threatened once more in here second quarter, driving all the way to the Virginia 19. Pitt lucked into some good field position, on the drive, too. Savage Reid to hit Street downfield, whose route was cut off by Maurice Canady. Boyd just happened to be there, slightly ahead of Street. He reached up and made the catch, giving Pitt a gain of 30.
Pitt also had to rely on a 15-yard pass interference penalty, when linebacker Henry Coley essentially tackled tight end Manasseh Garner.
As if the drive wasn't odd enough, Virginia declined a Pitt offensive pass interference penalty. Instead of going for it on a 4th-and-25, Pitt attempted a 36-yard field goal. Conveniently, for Virginia, kicker Chris Blewitt missed the field goal attempt.
Pitt took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
The good new for Virginia was that they came up with two turnovers in the third quarter--a fumble recovery after a Boyd reception. Boyd tried to extend himself for an extra yard, and simply dropped the ball. Virginia was set up in good field position, again. However, they went three-and-out.
Anthony Harris came up with a diving interception for Virginia on the next drive, to force the Cavaliers' second turnover of the quarter. Though Harris made a great break on the ball from a safety position, just cutting off the reeceiver's route, Virginia stumbled again. Three plays, three yards gained, and another punt.
The Pitt offense wasn't faring much better. Boyd made reeled in a 37-yarder towards the sideline where he was able to keep one foot in despite receiving tight coverage from Nicholson. Virginia's defensive line was getting pressure on Savage, and their secondary did a great job in coverage all day. Still Boyd and Street were able to make some plays, but not the gamebreaking type of plays they've made the last two weeks.
Despite the 37-yarder from Boyd, Pitt was forced to punt once again.
Ian Frye did get Virginia on the scoreboard with a 33-yard field goal. The third quarter ended with Pitt up, 14-3.
Virginia had one last crack at it, driving it all the way to the Pitt 4. The Cavaliers converted a fourth down on the drive. Anthony Gonzalez came up to make a big stop on a third down passing play, coming to stop Jake McGee on 3rd-and-2 for no gain. On the next play, Watford's pass was out of reach for McGee in the end zone, giving the ball back to Pitt.
“It was really important at the end," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "It was a big fourth down stop.”
Donald led Pitt on defense with two sacks. Gonzalez led the defensive effort overall, with 10 stops.