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Pitt’s nightmare season continues with 38-21 loss at Virginia Tech

If a “get right” game was left on the schedule for a Pitt Panthers team that began the 2023 regular season at 1-3, it just had to be at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Saturday night, no?

Virginia Tech came into the game also at 1-3 and had just lost to Rutgers and Marshall on the road in consecutive weeks.

Could the Panthers actually take it to Virginia Tech and begin to salvage what was left of their quickly deteriorating ’23 campaign?

In a word: No.

Much like the Tar Heels the week before at Acrisure Stadium, the Hokies took it to Pitt all night, and it was never really close after the visitors tied the score at 7 when quarterback Phil Jurkovec connected with receiver Bub Means for a 25-yard touchdown early in the first period.

It was all Virginia Tech after that, well, not initially, anyway.

The Panthers’ defense forced punts on Virginia Tech’s next two possessions, but all Jurkovec and Co. could produce on Pitt’s next two offensive series were seven plays, 26 yards and two punts of their own.

The Hokies scored two touchdowns in the second quarter and another one early in the third to take total command of the game.

Remember how I said it was never really close after the early stages of the game? Turns out, it became kind of close after Virginia Tech grabbed that three-touchdown lead.

One play after the home team made it 28-7, Jurkovec hooked up with running back C’Bo Flemister for a 61-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-14 with 10:08 remaining in the third quarter. Two plays later, linebacker Braylam Lovelace recovered a Hokies fumble and returned it four yards for a touchdown.

Just like that, Pitt’s deficit was down to a single touchdown.

The two teams traded punts on their next two possessions before the Hokies scored a touchdown late in the third quarter to more or less put the game away.

Virginia Tech added a field goal early in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the win and perhaps put the final nail in the coffin of the Panthers’ season.

Jurkovec completed 11 of 22 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns on the night. It may have been the best game of the season for the embattled quarterback, who also looked decent against North Carolina a week earlier.

While the quarterback is always the center of attention for a football team, what has really failed Pitt in ACC play has been the defense. After surrendering 41 points to the Tar Heels in Week 4, the Panthers yielded 427 total yards and 38 points to the Hokies on Saturday night. Virginia Tech’s offense picked up 25 first downs and racked up a total of 199 yards on the ground.

The Panthers are now 1-4 on the season and 0-2 in the ACC. Furthermore, Pitt’s only victory came in Week 1 against Wofford, an FCS program.

Pitt now has a bye before hosting Louisville on October 14.

It remains to be seen if the Panthers can do anything to right the ship and save what’s left of their 2023 campaign, but if they don’t soon figure things out, they will be in danger of suffering their first losing season since 2017.


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