Despite their past two losses, Virginia Tech headed to Pittsburgh still in control of their own destiny of the ACC Coastal. However, it became clear quickly that this would be the end of the Hokies' shrinking hopes to win their second Coastal title in 3 years.
Virginia Tech was blown out by Pittsburgh 52-22 to fall to 4-5 on the season and 3-3 in ACC play. With the result, Pitt is now the overwhelming favorite to win the Coastal while the Hokies are eliminated from Coastal contention.
The biggest issue was the rushing defense as Pittsburgh went right after the Hokies on the ground and exploded for 492 rushing yards. In addition, Pitt had big play after big play on the ground averaging an absurd 13.7 yards per carry. Qadree Ollison was dominant with 16 carries for 235 yards and 3 TDs while Darrin Hall had 7 carries for 186 yards.
Overall, the Hokies gave up 645 yards of offense, the most they have allowed under Bud Foster. The Hokies do have an insane amount of youth on the defense, but to get completely dominated as the Hokies did all day is an absolute disaster.
Offensively, the Hokies found some rhythm in the second half but that appeared to be in spite of the playcalling with Ryan Willis making some gutsy scrambles and VT's receivers turning short gains into bigger gains with some moves in the open field and broken tackles. Though Willis wasn't great in the first half, playcalling and poor offensive line play were the biggest issues for the Hokies' offense.
This was best shown by their poor and unnecessary of Quincy Patterson to either it hand it off or run QB power with his one rollout pass missing an open James Mitchell. Patterson has a bright future but there was no reason for Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen to keep trying to use Patterson when it was clear that their "changeup" wasn't working.
Looking ahead, Fuente has to start seriously considering making some sort of playcalling change or just strategic adjustment given the Hokies' offensive stagnation in recent weeks.
Justin Fuente and his staff have lots of questions to answer after an embarrassing performance that was clearly the worst of the Fuente era. Yes, the Hokies have lots of youth and inexperience on defense, but to get beat by 30 against a 6-4 Pittsburgh is extremely disappointing. At this point, the Hokies have gone from being inconsistent to consistently bad with worse performances each week outside of the slight improvement against Boston College in the first half.
Ryan Willis fought throughout the game and made some plays going 22-34 for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns while running for 65 yards on 16 carries with lots of tough running.
Eric Kumah had a big game with 6 catches for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns drawing multiple pass interference along the way and catching a 2-point conversion. Damon Hazelton had 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown while Tre Turner and Dalton Keene each had 4 catches for 38 and 26 yards respectively.
Virginia Tech opened the game with the ball and a pair of first downs on successive plays via Terius Wheatley and Eric Kumah. However, the Hokies stalled out at midfield and punted after that.
VT started out well defending the run, but Pitt converted a pair of third and longs through the air to Taysir Mack followed by a long scramble for Kenny Pickett. However, the Hokies' defense tightened down and held Pitt to a 47-yard field goal that gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Steven Peoples set VT up well after a return to the VT 34 with Eric Kumah getting it into Pitt territory with a 21-yard reception. However, the Hokies once again stalled out right after midfield with Oscar Bradburn's punt going through the endzone for a touchback.
Qadree Ollison started off Pittsburgh's next possession with a 27-yard carry. VT got a sack from Dax Hollifield, the first of his career, but Pitt found a quick response via a 53-yard run from Darrin Hall to set up a first and goal. Qadree Ollison finished it off on the next play with an 8-yard touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Virginia Tech came out on their next possession and had their first third down conversion of the day, but didn't do much after an Eric Kumah drop on what should've been a 20+ yard gain on first down. Pittsburgh quickly responded with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Pickett to Maurice Ffrench who made Jermaine Waller look quite bad to give the Panthers a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Steven Peoples had another big return almost to midfield to set up the Hokies' next drive. Virginia Tech started their next drive with a third down conversion on a long gain to Tre Turner. VT followed that with a fourth down conversion via a Ryan Willis QB sneak. However, the Hokies couldn't do much more before Brian Johnson missed from 40, missing an opportunity to cut into the 17-0 lead.
Pittsburgh kept their strong start going as Darrin Hall had a 58-yard gain on their second play of the drive. However, the Hokies had their first momentum-gaining play after a 15+ yard Kenny Pickett scramble became a forced fumble by Reggie Floyd recovered in the endzone by Rico Kearney.
The Hokies started with a pair of solid runs before a big gain to Damon Hazelton on a play that looked similar to past VT run-pass option plays to get into Pitt territory. After that, VT gained another 15 via a pass interference on Pitt's DB Kumah. After that, Eric Kumah got into space and Ryan Willis found him on an underthrown ball with Kumah fighting his way into the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown, cutting the Pitt lead to 17-7.
Qadree Ollison and Pitt responded with a pair of 20+ yard runs to start their drive. Pitt kept it going from there with their running game carrying them to the endzone with Maurice Ffrench punching it in on a 12-yard jet sweep for a TD to give Pitt a 24-7 lead.
Virginia Tech didn't have a response with their first 3 and out of the game on their next possession. That set up Pittsburgh at midfield with Pitt being stuck around with short gains and incompletions at first. Then, Kenny Pickett had a big pass play to Taysir Mack who caught it around Jermaine Waller at the 1. Pitt punched it in with a 1-yard touchdown by fullback George Aston to give Pitt a 31-7 lead right before the half.
Virginia Tech got the ball around the 40 with 30 seconds after a short kick. Steven Peoples had a long run that set the Hokies up at the Pitt 42 for one last play, but Ryan Willis was sacked.
Virginia Tech was absolutely dominated in their worst half of the Fuente era getting outgained 425-188 with Pitt easily outgaining their season average on the ground. The Hokies had spurts of solid play, but couldn't do much once getting into Pitt territory while the Hokies' defense was completely outmatched.
Ryan Willis put up decent numbers but struggled going 12-19 for 163 yards and a TD. Eric Kumah had a quality first half with 3 catches for 63 yards though he also had a big drop that he wishes he could've had back. Steven Peoples was solid with 7 carries for 38 yards and a pair of long kick returns of 30+ yards. Reggie Floyd was the Hokies' top defensive player with 4 tackles including a tackle for loss plus a forced fumble.
Virginia Tech's defense started their 2nd half holding Pitt to a 3 and out for the first time and forcing the Panthers' first punt of the game. On their first offensive drive, the Hokies found some momentum on the ground to get them near midfield. Virginia Tech then kept their drive moving with a pair of fourth down conversions from Ryan Willis. VT kept moving it with a Pitt pass interference followed by a big Ryan Willis first down gain on third down.
Virginia Tech broke through with their 3rd fourth down conversion from Willis to Kumah. Then, the Hokies cut it to a two-possession game with a 2-point conversion once again from Willis to Kumah to make it a 31-15 Pitt lead.
Pittsburgh responded immediately with a 73-yard touchdown run from Darrin Hall to give the Panthers a 38-15 lead.
Virginia Tech was pinned deep after Steven Peoples muffed the kickoff and gained a pair of first downs to start including a fourth down conversion by Ryan Willis. VT gained momentum after a 22-yard gain for Sean Savoy followed by another gain via a roughing the passer. The Hokies kept steadily moving the ball before Damon Hazelton broke a tackle off a spin move and scored to make it a 38-22 Pitt lead with over 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh started the next possession near midfield after a long return and late hit by Jordan Stout. Pittsburgh steadily moved the ball for a first down before Qadree Ollison broke through for 31 yards on fourth down for a TD to give Pitt a 45-22 lead.
The Hokies' offense came out and found a big play after gaining a first down with Ryan Willis turning a near sack into a 39-yard gain after landing on top of a defender. The Hokies kept marching it all the way down inside the Pitt 5 before getting stopped on fourth down.
Then, Qadree Ollison broke out on the first play breaking a Caleb Farley tackle for a 97-yard touchdown to give Pitt a 52-22 lead.
After the score, Virginia Tech brought in Quincy Patterson to finish out the game after largely unproductive stints earlier in the game. However, VT did find some momentum with Patterson in the game gaining multiple first downs before stalling out and turning the ball over on downs with Pitt running the game out.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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