Much has gone right this season for Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt football program.
Thanks to a record-breaking kick from kicker Chris Blewitt that trend continued for the Panthers as Pitt defeated Georgia Tech 31-28 to improve to 5-1 for the first time since the 2009 season. The win also improves Pitt to 3-0 in ACC play, setting the Panthers up very nicely in the Coastal Division race. Pitt (5-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is unbeaten in its first three conference games for the first time since 2010.
Late in the fourth quarter the Panthers were moving into field goal range before taking a pair of penalties prior to third down. Pitt came up empty on the third down attempt, but Narduzzi elected to go for the field goal. Blewitt repaid Narduzzi’s confidence by barely sneaking a 56-yarder through the uprights for what proved to be the game winner with 1:11 left.
Blewitt’s kick set a record for the longest field goal in Pitt program history.
However Blewitt wasn’t the only Pitt player in a record-setting mood on Saturday.
With an eight catch, 68 yard and two touchdown performance, wide receiver Tyler Boyd became the all-time leading receiver in Pitt history. Boyd hauled in a third-quarter pass from Nate Peterman to pass Devin Street in the Pitt record books. Street held the previous record with 202 all-time receptions. Boyd had a busy day as he just didn’t catch the football, the Clairton product also had five carries for 26 yards and completed a 29-yard pass.
The Panthers started impressively as they opened the game with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. The drive concluded when Peterman hit Boyd with a six-yard touchdown.
Things really picked up after that as the Georgia Tech triple-option attack shredded the Pitt defense. The Panthers came into the game No. 6 against the run, but allowed 264 rushing yards in the first half. On the day the Yellow Jackets rushed for 376 yards, but the Panthers defense did a good job limiting the damage in the second half.
Overall, the Pitt defense allowed 337 yards in the first half, but the Panthers adjusted and held Georgia Tech to just 112 yards in the second half.
Narduzzi wasn’t very worried about how many yards the Panthers defense allowed.
“All those stats are for losers,” he told reporters after the game. “All that matters is the ‘W.'”
The Yellow Jackets made things look easy on their first drive when Marcus Marshall rushed for a 58-yard score to tie the game. The freshman Marshall rushed for 159 yards on just 10 carries on the afternoon.
After moving the ball easily on the ground on their next drive, Georgia Tech struck through the air when Justin Thomas hit Ricky Jeune with a 29-yard touchdown pass. Jeune beat Avonte Maddox on the play.
Pitt answered right back though when Qadree Ollison plunged in from a yard out, capping off a five-play, 75-yard drive. But the Yellow Jackets answered right back with a 10-play, 86-yard drive when Patrick Skov scored on the ground from one-yard out.
The Panthers tied the game at 21, scoring late in the first half when Peterman hit Boyd again, this time from 17-yards out.
Both defenses tightened up in the second half as each team only found the end zone once.
Pitt took a 28-21 lead in the third quarter when Peterman found tight end J.P. Holtz with a six-yard touchdown. On the afternoon Peterman was solid, completing 14-of-21 pass attempts for 162 yards, three touchdowns and more importantly, no interceptions.
Georgia Tech tied things up early in the fourth quarter when Marshall found the end zone for the second time on the day, this time a seven-yard run.
Things stayed that way until the Blewitt field goal. The Yellow Jackets got the ball back with just over a minute left, but couldn’t move into field goal range as the Panthers defense stood tall.
Pitt will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to Syracuse.
Georgia Tech (2-5, 0-4 ACC) has lost five straight, its longest single-season skid since it went 1-10 in 1996. The Yellow Jackets will host Florida State next week.
Game Notes: Pitt ran for 200 total yards on the day, led by Ollison, who finished with 83 on 22 carries…GT quarterback Justin Thomas rushed for 95 yards, while throwing for 106 as he gave the Panthers fits most of the afternoon…The Pitt offense was effective, racking up 391 total yards… The nationally ranked Pitt defense may take a bit of a hit this week after allowing 482 yards of total offense…The Pitt defense forced two turnovers, an interception by Maddox and a fumble recovery by Terrish Webb…The Pitt defense also had seven tackles for loss and got a sack from Shakir Soto…Leading tackler Jordan Whitehead left the game with a head injury late in the second and didn’t return.
Photo Credit: Pitt Athletics