“I don’t know that any one understands how exhausting all of that is,” Virginia Tech Trainer Justin Fuente mentioned of enjoying all through the pandemic. “I’m now not speaking the closing 3 weeks. I’m simply speaking about all of this since July to again within the spring. The fellows are extremely resilient. They’d love to play higher and recover effects.”
The decisive stretch Saturday at Heinz Box spread out after the Panthers (Five-Four, Four-Four) filled Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker on the function line on fourth down somewhat greater than 5 mins into the 3rd quarter. The stand allowed Pittsburgh to maintain its 26-14 lead and take over at its 1-yard line. Two performs later, a blown project compounded by means of overlooked tackles yielded Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett’s 64-yard landing go to DJ Turner (DeMatha) with eight:43 to play.
Virginia Tech kicker Brian Johnson, probably the most dependable within the ACC, overlooked a 38-yard box function strive at the Hokies’ subsequent ownership, and the Panthers all however sealed their win when Pickett capped a 79-yard pressure with a one-yard landing run for a 40-14 lead with 20 seconds left within the quarter.
The Hokies surrendered 556 yards of offense. Pickett handed for 404 yards whilst finishing 35 of 52 makes an attempt, and Turner added 184 yards on 15 receptions.
“You don’t need to be on this state of affairs,” Hokies defensive take on Jarrod Hewitt mentioned of the group’s contemporary slide. “However I’m very assured we’ll come in combination and now not additional aside.”
Hooker accounted for 313 of the Hokies’ 434 yards, passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Khalil Herbert carried 9 instances for 72 yards as Virginia Tech accumulated simply 156 speeding yards, neatly underneath its ACC-leading moderate of 262.eight coming into the sport.
The Hokies trailed 23-14 at halftime after yielding two touchdowns within the ultimate six mins. The second one of the ones got here on Pickett’s 11-yard throw to extensive receiver Jaylon Barden. Pickett confirmed off his arm energy at the play, working to his left whilst beneath power and finishing a strike towards the center of the top zone.
After falling in the back of Nine-Zero, Virginia Tech scored its first issues on Hooker’s 55-yard go to extensive receiver Tré Turner, trimming the Hokies’ deficit to Nine-7 with eight:13 left within the first part. Turner were given in the back of the secondary due to a run faux by means of Hooker, who accumulated the snap and started shifting to his proper earlier than pulling up and turning in a pinpoint throw as Pittsburgh’s protection flowed towards him.
Turner added his 2d landing on a seven-yard go from Hooker, jumping to protected the ball and drawing the Hokies inside 16-14 with three:36 to head within the quarter. The junior harm his hand at the catch and overlooked the remainder of the sport.
“We nonetheless need to win video games,” Turner mentioned. “Nonetheless a hungry group in my eyes, nonetheless a large number of battle regardless.”
As has been regimen, Virginia Tech performed with a compromised roster. Cornerbacks Jermaine Waller and Dorian Robust, defensive finish Emmanuel Belmar and guard Doug Nester have been inactive, leaving the Hokies with out their maximum starters in weeks. Additionally vital used to be the absence of in poor health junior left take on Christian Darrisaw (Riverdale Baptist). The very popular prospect didn’t observe this week; sophomore Luke Tenuta began in his position.
“I do know we’re down a large number of guys and all that roughly stuff,” Fuente mentioned, “however that doesn’t imply we will be able to’t get first downs on fourth and one or rating on fourth and function from the 1 or play higher.”
The Panthers had 16 gamers unavailable on account of sure coronavirus assessments or touch tracing, the athletic division introduced. Some of the extra notable absences have been 3 beginning offensive linemen.