Hokies held to lowest total yardage since Beamer’s first game
PITTSBURGH 17, VIRGINIA TECH 13
blacksburg, va.— Pittsburgh’s players had heard the whispers and seen the numbers.
With all-Atlantic Coast Conference tailback James Conner lost for the season to a torn medial collateral ligament, the logic said, the Panthers couldn’t run the ball. Enter Qadree Ollison. The 230-pound redshirt freshman ran for 122 yards on just 19 carries, including consecutive long gainers on the first two plays of the second half, and the Panthers rode a 166-yard rushing day and a stifling defense to a 17-13 victory at Virginia Tech on Saturday.
“We want to run the ball as a team, even with James going down,” Ollison said.
Ollison went 43 yards around the left side on the first play of the second half and then the final 25 yards through the left side on the next play — a stunning two-play, 68-yard drive that took 45 seconds and gave Pitt a 17-7 lead.
Then it was up to the defense, which arrived ranked 17th in the country and only enhanced its numbers. The Hokies finished with 100 yards, their lowest total since they managed only 60 in Frank Beamer’s first game as coach 29 years ago.
The Panthers (3-1, 1-0 ACC) won for the sixth time in the last seven meetings against their old Big East rivals, largely on the backs of the defense that sacked Brenden Motley seven times, hit him constantly and intercepted three passes.
“What happened was simple,” Hokies offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “We didn’t run the ball well. You got your quarterback hit, next thing you know, your quarterback’s not making great decisions. They beat us. They beat us up front. They beat us as a unit.”
Virginia Tech (2-3, 0-1) finished with nine rushing yards on 33 carries and lost 57 yards to sacks, the last two of which came on consecutive plays to start its final series. The first cost the Hokies eight yards and the next one seven. On third and 23, Motley threw incomplete.
The Panthers knew Motley could hurt them with his arm and feet, but let him do neither.
“It was a combination of a little bit of everything,” Coach Pat Narduzzi said of trying to confuse the quarterback, who was making his fourth career start. “It was a four-man pressure, fiveman pressure . . . capturing the lanes so he couldn’t get out” and run.
Motley finished 9 of 20 for 91 yards. He ran 17 times for minus 14 yards.
The Hokies had several scoring chances in the second half but were limited to two field goals.
Trailing 17-7, the Hokies made a break for themselves when Andrew Motuapuaka forced his second fumble of the game and Terrell Edmunds recovered and returned it to the Pittsburgh 23. But Motley was sacked for the fourth time for a seven-yard loss on the next play, and three plays later, Joey Slye’s 43-yard field goal pulled Virginia Tech to within 17-10.
A reversed call later gave the Hokies a first down at the Pittsburgh 44. A personal foul moved the ball to the 29, but the Hokies stalled there and had to settle for a 48-yard field goal from Slye, making it 17-13 with 13 minutes 20 seconds remaining.
Virginia Tech had two long conversions on its lone scoring drive before halftime. Motley scrambled for 22 yards on a second and 19 and then found Bucky Hodges for 28 yards on third and 17 from the Pittsburgh 40. Two plays later, he hit Cam Phillips with an 11-yard touchdown dart.