ShareThis Page
Pitt

Georgia Tech runs all over mistake-prone Pitt

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, 7:12 p.m.
Pitt running back James Conner has the ball stripped by Georgia Tech's D.J. White before he reaches the end zone during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt running back James Conner has the ball stripped by Georgia Tech's D.J. White before he reaches the end zone during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech's Isaiah Johnson picks up a Tyler Boyd first-quarter fumble Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech's Isaiah Johnson picks up a Tyler Boyd first-quarter fumble Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik is sidelined by a hit against Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik is sidelined by a hit against Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech's D.J. White jars the ball loose from Pitt running back James Conner in the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech's D.J. White jars the ball loose from Pitt running back James Conner in the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech's Deon Hill gets past Pitt's Lafayette Pitts on the way to third-quarter touchdown Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech's Deon Hill gets past Pitt's Lafayette Pitts on the way to third-quarter touchdown Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik fumbles in the third quarter against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik fumbles in the third quarter against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas gets away from Pitt linebacker Anthony Gonzalez in the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas gets away from Pitt linebacker Anthony Gonzalez in the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech's DeAndre Smelter makes a second-quarter catch in front of Pitt's Lafayette Pitts on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech's DeAndre Smelter makes a second-quarter catch in front of Pitt's Lafayette Pitts on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz sits on the bench against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz sits on the bench against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas gets around the corner against Pitt linebacker Todd Thomas in the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas gets around the corner against Pitt linebacker Todd Thomas in the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Pitt doctors check quarterback Chad Voytik as he was knocked out of the game by Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt doctors check quarterback Chad Voytik as he was knocked out of the game by Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Pitt coach Paul Chyrst talks with backup quarterback Trey Anderson against Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt coach Paul Chyrst talks with backup quarterback Trey Anderson against Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Heinz Field.

College football historians will marvel at Pitt's ball-handling debacle during Saturday's 56-28 loss to Georgia Tech.

And well they should.

But that's not to forgive the defense. Georgia Tech's point total was the most allowed by Pitt at Heinz Field and the most against the Panthers since a 60-6 loss at Notre Dame in 1996. That game marked the next-to-last game of the second Johnny Majors era, perhaps the low point in recent Pitt history.

Perhaps Pitt hasn't fallen that far in the third year of coach Paul Chryst's tenure, but it wasn't a pretty sight. With Majors in attendance celebrating the return of the Pitt script logo that did little but raise false hope, fans departed early and disillusioned, leaving the stadium almost empty for most of the fourth quarter.

Pitt (4-4, 2-2 ACC) tied a 32-year-old FBS record by losing five fumbles in the first quarter, four on each of its first four possessions over just six snaps. By the end, Pitt fumbled seven times, losing six.

The Ramblin' Wreck (6-2, 3-2) scored with quick, effective jabs. Six of their drives lasted three or fewer plays.

Chryst admitted such a turn of events can sap energy from a team, but he wasn't of a mind to excuse it. After eight games, he still is waiting for his team to grow up.

“Those are the things you have to learn how to respond to,” he said. “Yeah, it takes a little bit out of you, but that's where you have to grow.”

Georgia Tech built a 28-0 lead only 5 minutes, 16 seconds into the game. Other than two Pitt touchdowns by running back James Conner that trimmed the lead to 28-14 at halftime, Pitt barely threatened.

But that only tells part of the story of a loss that prevented Pitt from moving into first place in the ACC Coastal Division.

Pitt, which entered the game with a No. 4 national ranking in overall defense, allowed Georgia Tech to rush for 465 yards, 27 first downs and seven touchdowns. Overall, Georgia Tech totaled 612 yards.

Chryst said he thought Georgia Tech's running game wore down his team. Senior safety Ray Vinopal indicated he didn't recognize the defense that he was a part of only a few days ago.

“Guys were not in the spots they were in all week in practice,” he said. “That's how you get beat, and we got beat bad.”

The game spiraled out of Pitt's control when quarterback Chad Voytik, Conner, running back Isaac Bennett and wide receiver Tyler Boyd lost fumbles on the Panthers' first six snaps.

The most stunning occurred when Conner had the ball stripped by cornerback D.J. White just before he crossed the goal line after a 74-yard run. A touchdown would have tied the score at 7-7 early in the first quarter. The football went out of bounds, and Georgia Tech was awarded possession on the touchback.

“I didn't see him,” Conner said. “I though I had it. Next time, I will take it to the back of the end zone. Lesson learned.”

Georgia Tech running back Broderick Snoddy, playing for injured starter Zach Laskey, scored on 4-, 34- and 28-yard runs — his first touchdowns of the season. He bounced off poor tackling attempts several times.

Quarterback Justin Thomas also had a 14-yard scoring run and a 79-yard touchdown pass to Charles Perkins, who was wide open not far from the line of scrimmage and outraced the Pitt defense into the end zone. Synjyn Days led Georgia Tech with 110 yards rushing. Thomas added 92 and Snoddy 82.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me