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The Panthers score two TDs in the first quarter and go on to top Virginia 14-3.
Virginia quarterback David Watford is sacked by Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald during Saturday's game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Panthers defeated the Cavaliers 14-3.
Virginia quarterback David Watford (5) fumbles as he is sacked by Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) in the fourth quarter Saturday in Pittsburgh. Watford recovered his own fumble. Pittsburgh won 14-3.
Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd (23) makes a catch in front of Virginia cornerback Demetrious Nicholson (1) in the second quarter Saturday in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 14-3.
Virginia safety Anthony Harris (8) can't come up with the interception on a pass bobbled by Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd (bottom) Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Virginia wide receiver Tim Smith (20) looks for running room as Pittsburgh defensive back Jason Hendricks (25) defends Saturday in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 14-3.
Associated Press | File September
Coach Mike London’s Cavaliers go into today’s game with a 6-19 record in their last 25 games.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
PITTSBURGH — Mike London could not have asked for more from his defense on a day that Virginia forced three turnovers and sacked Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage seven times.
As for the Cavaliers’ offense, that was another story.
When pundits speculated that Virginia would have to put points on the board to beat the Panthers, three was not the number that they had in mind.
Pittsburgh scored two early touchdowns following UVa turnovers, but one TD was all they needed in a 14-3 victory at Heinz Field.
The Panthers (3-1, 2-1 ACC) had given up 532 yards one week earlier in a 58-55 victory at Duke and came into Saturday ranked 101st out of 123 FBS teams in total defense.
Virginia’s lone score was a 32-yard field goal by Ian Frye with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers (2-2, 0-1) failed to score on three other trips inside the Pittsburgh 30, including a fourth-quarter series that ended with an incompletion on fourth-and-2 from the Panthers’ 3 with 3:30 left.
UVa has scored a total of three touchdowns in three games against FBS opposition.
“What I told everyone is, ‘This has got to get fixed,’ ” London said. “It’s not about a popularity contest. It’s about finding those players that can be consistent and give us a chance to win.”
Pittsburgh, which had averaged 474 yards in total offense in its first three games, finished with 199. Virginia had 188 yards in total offense, 62 on their next-to-last series.
Against a team that ranked 118th in the country in pass-efficiency defense, UVa sophomore quarterback David Watford was 15-of-37 for 123 yards. The Cavaliers were 3-for-18 on third-down conversions and 1-for-4 on fourth down.
Watford boarded the team bus before he could be located to meet with reporters after the game.
“I think we had a lot of drops today,” said Jake McGee, who finished with two receptions for 10 yards. “I don’t know how many. It seemed like, every pass play, we were doing something wrong.”
The Cavaliers’ last chance to score followed a 7-yard Watford run, setting up a second-and-3 from the Pitt 4. A swing pass to McGee went for no gain; then, following a timeout, McGee couldn’t come up with a high ball at the back of the end zone.
“I think I should have caught it,” McGee said. “I’ve got to see it, but I expect to make those plays. I don’t think I played my best football today. I expect myself to [catch] every throw that comes to me.”
Even if the Cavaliers had gone for field goals on all four of their trips inside the Pitt 30, it wouldn’t have been enough to win the game. However, a field goal on the last trip would have made it a one-score game.
“Even if you don’t get the touchdown, there is still that chance that you get the first down,” London said. “Talking to players and coaches, I said, ‘Let’s go for it. We are on the road.’ ”
The Cavaliers had the Panthers pinned at their 4, but a 16-yard run by Rashid Ibrahim on third-and-6 sealed the deal.
“Offensively, we struggled and never really got a rhythm going,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “Virginia has a good defense. Momentum is a big part of football. Defensively, we had it and were able to keep it.”
The Panthers opened the scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run by James Conner with 5:28 left in the first quarter. Pitt took four plays to drive 19 yards following a fumble by UVa sophomore Dominique Terrell.
A short punt bounced in front of Terrell and his initial plan was to let it roll dead.
“But it wouldn’t stop rolling and I decided I needed to save us some yardage,” Terrell said. “I tried to fall on it and it hit my leg.”
Terrell, selected UVa’s top special teams performer one week earlier, had been unable to come up with another short punt on Pitt’s first attempt of the day, and he later recovered his own fumble on a kickoff.
“He had been doing a nice job with the kick returns and decisions, particularly last week,” London said. “Today, he wasn’t on top of his game and some of those decisions cost us field position.
“He’s got to be better than that [or] we’ve got to find better.”
Virginia’s next series lasted five plays before Watford couldn’t come down with a shotgun snap from Ross Burbank that the Panthers recovered at the UVa 18.
“Obviously, [Watford] had his hands on it, but he dropped it,” London said. “He’s got to take care of that. And then the drops situation wasn’t a matter of him catching the ball. He was throwing the ball to the right receivers.
“With the drops and the inefficiency on third down, that was our demise.”
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