The Pittsburgh Panthers had their bowl hopes officially come to an end when Darrin Hall was stopped on 4th and goal at the one yard line with 32 seconds left. The goal line stand by the Hokies sealed a 20-14 road loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.
Saturday’s loss ensures that the Panthers will not be going to a bowl game since the 2007 season when Dave Wannstedt was at the helm. In the game, starter Ben DiNucci was benched late in the first quarter in favor of Kenny Pickett after he threw an interception to safety Reggie Floyd. Pickett went 15 for 23 for 242 yards, but threw the costly interception that led to the winning touchdown for the Hokies.
Here are the takeaways and observations from Saturday’s game.
No matter who was the quarterback for Pitt they did not have a good game running the football. Pitt rushed for 55 yards on 30 carries and could not gain one yard on three tries from the one yard line. The Panthers were 2 for 12 on third down and made critical errors such as Pickett’s interception at crucial times. Pitt simply could not execute situational football on Saturday.
The Panthers were not helped out much by their sputtering offense and only gave up 20 points, but the Panthers defense were not able to execute in critical situations as well. The Panthers allowed the Hokies to convert on 10 for 19 on third down and allowed 157 rushing yards.
Bottom line is the Hokies were able to make the critical plays at critical times, whether it be a key tackle by Floyd to stop Jester Weah at the 1-yard line to allow the goal line stand or the 3rd and 9 conversion from Josh Jackson to Cam Phillips for the winning score. That separates upper tier teams in the ACC such as Virginia Tech from the Panthers who will be sitting at home for the holidays.
The Panthers will finish their season on Friday night at Heinz Field when they host the Miami Hurricanes.