Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nothing Hokie about Pitt's Victory Defense, Running Game, Sunseri Team to Stun No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nothing Hokie about Pitt's Victory Defense, Running Game, Sunseri Team to Stun No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17

Article excerpt

For the past two weeks, Pitt's players insisted that, despite two losses, the team was making progress. Saturday, they finally let their play do the talking.

Pitt upset No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17, at Heinz Field, earning the first win of the Paul Chryst era in emphatic fashion.

The Panthers (1-2) dominated the Hokies on the ground, piling up 254 rushing yards to Virginia Tech's 59. Freshman running back Rushel Shell accounted for 157 of those yards, his first career 100- yard rushing game in just the second game of his young career. He missed the opener against Youngstown State because he and five other Pitt players were suspended.

"You've got to run," said senior Ray Graham, who rushed for 94 yards. "You've got to be physical in this game."

Graham scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. His rushing touchdown on Pitt's opening drive was his first since returning from offseason ACL surgery.

Meanwhile, Pitt's defense refused to let Virginia Tech establish any sort of running presence. The Hokies gained 59 yards on the ground and averaged 2.3 yards per carry.

"They were not going to run the ball," Pitt linebacker Shane Gordon said. "That's the emphasis. We were going to out-hit them, be more physical and just make them pass."

Pitt forced highly touted Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas into three costly interceptions, two by safety Jason Hendricks.

The defensive line, which struggled at containing quarterbacks in the first two games, was in Thomas' face all afternoon.

"He's a good quarterback, but we had him today," Hendricks said.

Unlike last week, when Pitt trailed, 14-0, against Cincinnati before five minutes had elapsed, the Panthers jumped to an early lead. On their first drive, they fed the defense a steady dose of Graham, and mixed in a couple of long passes from quarterback Tino Sunseri.

On first-and-10 from the Virginia Tech 12, Graham took a handoff right, stutter-stepped around a Hokies defender and sprinted to the corner of the end zone for his first touchdown since Oct. 8 of last season.

"It felt real good to get back to the old ways," Graham said. "It just felt good to put up points, period. …

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