Virginia falls to Pittsburgh, 14-3
Offense accomplishes little as first-quarter turnovers doom Cavaliers to 2-2 start
Playing outside its home stadium for the first time this season, the Virginia football team looked out of its element Saturday. Turnovers gave Pittsburgh early breathing room and an anemic offensive attack kept the Cavaliers out of striking distance as they fell 14-3.
The Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC) defense came out strong early, forcing Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1 ACC) to punt on its first two drives. But junior wide receiver Dominique Terrell mishandled the second punt to give the Panthers field position in the red zone. Pittsburgh capitalized as freshman running back James Conner punched it in from six yards out to take a 7-0 lead.
On the subsequent drive, sophomore quarterback David Watford fumbled a low snap and the Panthers fell on the ball to regain possession at Virginia’s 18-yard line. Two plays later, senior quarterback Tom Savage found senior wide receiver Devin Street for a 15-yard touchdown to go ahead 14-0.
Watford struggled to lead any sort of offensive charge for Virginia, completing just 15-of-37 passes for 123 yards. Cavalier receivers dropped several catchable passes while the team’s running backs combined for just 65 yards on the ground after amassing 357 rushing yards last week.
Virginia’s defense held Pittsburgh scoreless for the final three quarters in an impressive performance. Junior cornerback Demetrious Nicholson and junior safety Anthony Harris each had an interception, and the Cavaliers forced a third turnover on a third-quarter fumble. Pittsburgh finished with just 8 rushing yards and 199 yards on offense.
The offense began showing some life late in the third quarter, but could not sustain the momentum. Watford found sophomore wide receiver Adrian Gamble on a 16-yard pass and Terrell ran 21 yards on a reverse to set up a 32-yard field goal by sophomore place kicker Ian Frye with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded punts to start the fourth quarter, but the Virginia offense found a rhythm in its second drive of the period. With eight minutes remaining in the game, Watford led a 77-yard drive to Pittsburgh’s 11-yard line. After three unsuccessful attempts to cross the goal line, Virginia kept the offense on the field for a 4th-and-2 on the Panther’s 3-yard line.
With the game on the line, Watford overthrew junior tight end Jake McGee in the back of the end zone to turn the ball over with just over three minutes remaining. Pittsburgh ran the clock out on the subsequent drive to seal the 14-3 win.
Virginia next returns to Charlottesville for a matchup next Saturday against Ball State.