Virginia Tech has been in a rut recently after back-to-back losses to Miami and Georgia Tech. Today, the Hokies had a chance to get out of that rut against a Pittsburgh team that many expected VT to blow out.
Instead, it turned into a crazy nail-bitter that ended with one of the wildest finishes in recent memory in Lane Stadium.
Virginia Tech beat Pittsburgh 20-14 thanks to a goal-line stand in the final seconds of the game after a 74-yard completion had Pittsburgh on the 1. Reggie Floyd made a huge tackle to prevent the Panthers' big pass from being a touchdown while the Hokies' defense stepped up all around to prevent Pitt from getting into the end zone.
Virginia Tech's defense shut down Pittsburgh's rushing attack with Pitt having only 55 rushing yards and an average of 1.8 yards per carry. VT shut down Pitt RB Darrin Hall with Hall having a net of 4 rushing yards on 15 carries as VT has an elite rush defense.
The Hokies' pass defense didn't have their best day as Pitt threw for 311 yards and had multiple big passing plays. However, they did have a pair of big interceptions including one from Greg Stroman that gave the Hokies lots of momentum down the stretch.
The Hokies' offense was better this week with 375 total yards and improved play-calling. Virginia Tech was also able to get their ground game going with Deshawn McClease and Jalen Holston each averaging over 4 yards per carry. However, the Hokies' passing game wasn't great as Josh Jackson had one of his worst games and while he did have some really good throws, he also missed his fair share of throws.
Jackson finished the day 17-for-37 for 218 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception along with 32 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Jackson has struggled recently and has appeared to regress some, which seems largely due to a lack of confidence recently. Ahead of their road trip to Virginia, Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen will need to find ways to build up Jackson's confidence. However, today's win definitely should help no matter Jackson's performance.
Virginia Tech ran the ball much better today led by Deshawn McClease who was a spark with 14 carries for 70 yards. McClease took over in the second half and was a big reason why the Hokies were able to come back from being down 14-10. Jalen Holston also played well in the first half and finished the day with 12 carries for 52 yards as McClease and Holston are establishing themselves as the main duo in the Hokies' backfield.
Cam Phillips had a record-breaking day with 8 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown to break Virginia Tech school receiving yards record. This was one of his best games this season as Phillips made play after play including a great touchdown catch in traffic that put the Hokies back in front for good.
Eric Kumah had 3 catches for 25 yards as he continues to become a more consistent receiver while Phil Patterson was a pleasant surprise with 2 catches for 29 yards. Chris Cunningham had a 37-yard reception on the Hokies' opening drive that included an impressive stiff arm while Sean Savoy had 2 catches for 7 yards and James Clark had a 3-yard reception.
Reggie Floyd had one of the greatest hustle plays of the year with an incredible tackle to stop Pittsburgh's 74-yard gain on the run before the Hokies' defense stepped up for their goal-line stand to win the game. Floyd was a playmaker throughout the game leading the Hokies with 8 tackles in addition to having 1.5 tackles and 1 interception. Floyd has a very bright future with the Hokies as he continues to only get better and could be a sleeper to have a breakout All-ACC type season next year.
Greg Stroman wasn't perfect, but had another really good game and improved his case to be an All-American. Stroman had 7 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and a big interception that helped flip the momentum for Virginia Tech. Stroman had another great day and is having one of the best seasons a Virginia Tech cornerback has had over the past several years.
Tremaine Edmunds had a strong performance with 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 2 QB hurries while Tim Settle had 3 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Andrew Motuapuaka played quite well wearing #25 on his Senior Day with 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack in his final game in Lane Stadium.
This was far from being a perfect game for Virginia Tech against a Pittsburgh team that, on-paper, the Hokies should have blown out. However, the Hokies found a way to win when they weren't at their best with some great plays on both sides of the ball, especially from Reggie Floyd and Greg Stroman on defense.
While there is a lot to talk about from this game, that discussion is for tomorrow Today, all that really matters is that Virginia Tech won and now, it's #BeatUVA week.
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