FINAL: Pittsburgh 14, Virginia 3. Cavs see outstanding defensive effort (seven sacks) go to waste, drop their ACC opener to fall to 2-2, 0-1. Pitt moves to 3-1, 2-1.
The Cavs are still hanging around thanks to their defense and punter, trailing 14-3 as the quarter ends. UVa finally got on the board with a 32-yard field goal by Ian Frye with 1:23 left in the third.
The kick came not long after UVa punter Alec Vozenilek boomed a 77-yarder to flip the field. That was the fourth-longest boot in school history (record is 80 yards) and longest since 1977.
Dominique Terrell also had a 21-yard end-around on a well-designed and well-executed play (a rarity for the Cavs today).
UVa has five sacks today, including three by Max Valles. This feels like a lot of Virginia Tech games I’ve seen over the years, where the defense gives the team a chance and the offense struggles to capitalize.
Still time for UVa. Pitt is backed up deep in its own territory as the fourth begins…
We go to the half with UVa trailing the Panthers 14-0 — still in it, but barely.
UVa’s best chance to score came early in the quarter, when Demetrious Nicholson picked off a pass at the Pitt 35. It was the junior cornerback’s third career interception but first since the Georgia Tech game two years ago.
Facing a fourth-and-2, the Cavs opted to go for it rather than attempt a long field goal. I agree with that decision; the attempt would have been toward the open end of Heinz Field – a notorious Bermuda Triangle for kicks because of the wind – and UVa needed a bigger spark than three points when trailing 14-0.
So good call to go. Puzzling play call, though. The Cavs tried a quick pitch to the short side to Kevin Parks, who was dragged down immediately.
The Cavs faced a similar situation (fourth-and-4, Pitt territory, same direction) later in the period but Watford’s pass over the middle was not caught by Jake McGee.
UVa’s defense actually has played quite well. Both touchdowns were gaffe-fueled, with Pitt getting a short field after UVa fumbles. Pitt only has 94 yards on 37 plays. With the exception of Tyler Boyd, who’s been catching everything thrown his way, the Panthers have enjoyed their biggest gains on UVa pass-interference penalties.
UVa only has 75 total yards. Watford’s 3-for-9 for 34 yards and has run for 18 yards on seven carries (including one sack). Parks is averaging 2.7 yards on his 13 carries.
Would like to see McGee targeted a few times in the second half. That fourth down play was the only time Watford threw to him so far.
One of the bright spots for the Cavaliers has been freshman linebacker Max Valles, who has two sacks and made a nice tackle on punt coverage just before halftime.
Cavaliers will get the ball to start the second half. Not over by any means, but the offense must be much better than it was for us to see an interesting finish today.
The Cavaliers trail 14-0 and have just punted the ball away as the quarter ends. Gaffes are the story so far.
Dominique Terrell made the first one. It happened on a low line-drive punt that Terrell shouldn’t have been anywhere near, but for some reason he ran beside it as it rolled. It bounced off his leg. He tried to dive on it after that but couldn’t corral it. Pitt recovered it at the UVa 19 and turned it into a touchdown four plays later.
Pitt’s second TD also can be traced to a UVa fumble. QB David Watford mishandled a shotgun snap (it was at his waist, but it almost looked like he was surprised it was coming his way). Pitt recovered at the UVa 19 and needed just two plays to get back in the end zone.
The thing is, before Terrell made the first mistake, the Cavs were in a decent place. The field position battle was trending in their favor. Just underscores how key special teams can be, which is exactly why the Cavs hired Larry Lewis this offseason to oversee that phase of the game. That quarter won’t be one he’ll want to remember, and neither will the Cavs.
Pitt—Conner 6 run (Blewitt kick), 5:28. Drive: Four plays, 19 yards, 1:25. Key play: Coles fumble recovery on UVa 19. Pittsburgh 7, Virginia 0.
Pitt—Street 15 pass from Savage (Blewitt kick), 2:28. Drive: Two plays, 18 yards, :41. Key play: Bradley fumble recovery UVa 18. Pittsburgh 14, Virginia 0.
UVa—FG Frye 32, 1:23. Drive: Seven plays, 38 yards, 2:01. Key play: Terrell 21 run to Pitt 16. Pittsburgh 14, Virginia 3.
PREGAME: Good gracious, what a perfect day in Pittsburgh, where UVa will face the Panthers at 12:30.
Got turned away at the press gate when I forgot I was carrying my pocketknife, but the walk back to the car turned out to be a blessing. I’m now writing this while sitting next to the river, watching kayakers pass and fellow tourists sneak a peak at the giant inflatable rubber ducky docked near the fountain.
The rubber ducky — the subject of a front-page centerpiece in today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette (the phrase “painting the town quack and yellow” was used, as it should have been) — apparently is an international sensation that made its U.S. debut yesterday. I walked through the Rubber Ducky Bridge Party last night and asked a friendly Pitt native what all the fuss was about. “I have no earthly idea,” she said. But she seemed to be enjoying the duck’s presence. That’s what counts.
Pirates jerseys everywhere you look. The plane. The streets. The restaurants. Bandwagon or not, that’s awesome to see. I experienced the Baltimore revival last year, savored every second of it, and am glad River City residents can do the same. Your move, Royals.
Casino was a lot of fun last night, even if the dice were in an uncooperative mood. Friendly dealers and pit bosses. Good-natured players. A winning night there would be incredible. Maybe when Tech comes up here next year.
Also highly recommend the Hyatt Regency if you’re ever up this way. Good folks. Plus, you can step off the plane and walk straight to your room. Can’t beat that.
Pitt is favored by 7. I’ve already seen one 7-point dog bite outright this week. Let’s see what the Cavs have. Keep an eye on Brent Urban and the UVa pass rush, which likely will be the key to the Cavs’ chances.
Thoughts coming your way after each of the first three quarters, then some postgame thoughts once the column’s done. Feel free to share your thoughts on this game or any of the others on tap today.
As always, thanks for stopping by.