Hok­ies held to low­est to­tal yardage since Beamer’s first game

PITTSBURGH 17, VIR­GINIA TECH 13

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY HANK KURZ JR.

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.

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