Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Shows It Has Grit Pitt 14, Virginia 3

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Shows It Has Grit Pitt 14, Virginia 3

Article excerpt

Pitt earned its second Atlantic Coast Conference win Saturday against Virginia, and it couldn't have looked much more different than the Panthers' first ACC win a week earlier.

After the offense stole the show last week against Duke, the defense held strong in Pitt's 14-3 victory against the Cavaliers at Heinz Field as the Panthers moved to 3-1 for the first time since 2009.

"I'd like to say I know what to expect for games, but I don't," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. "I think that you have to prepare yourself and prepare your team for whatever happens.

"Two different weeks, two totally different types of games. If we can keep growing and learning to play together and play off each other, then we've got a chance to be better."

Neither offense saw much success Saturday. Pitt managed only 199 total yards, including a paltry 8 yards on 35 rushing attempts. Virginia had 188 yards of offense, but converted just 3 of 18 third downs.

Pitt got both of its touchdowns off of Virginia turnovers in the first quarter.

With 6:53 left in the quarter, Pitt cornerback Trenton Coles fell on a botched punt return by Virginia's Dominique Terrell, who let the bouncing ball hit his foot at the Virginia 19.

Four plays later, freshman running back James Conner bowled over Cavaliers safety Brandon Phelps for a 6-yard touchdown run.

Despite the touchdown, Conner was stifled for just 27 yards on 15 carries, an average of 1.8 yards per rush.

"It was frustrating," Conner said. "Being a running back, I don't like to lose yards."

The Cavaliers gave the ball back to Pitt with good field position on the next drive, when linebacker Bam Bradley recovered a fumble by Virginia quarterback David Watford.

With 2:28 left in the first, quarterback Tom Savage found receiver Devin Street in the corner of the end zone to put the Panthers up, 14-0.

"[The defense] brought a lot of energy and certainly those early turnovers were key," Chryst said. "Offensively we were able to cash in on it."

Savage finished 13 of 31 for 191 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

He did not finish the game, though, coming out in the fourth quarter with "concussion-like symptoms. …

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