Dominant defense helps Pitt overcome turnovers in win at Georgia Tech | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Dominant defense helps Pitt overcome turnovers in win at Georgia Tech

Associated Press
1891742_web1_1891742-918d4b62290e4e97819d463343c1be6d
AP
Georgia Tech quarterback James Graham is brought down by Pitt defensive back Paris Ford (12) and Pittsburgh defensive lineman Habakkuk Baldonado (87) after a short gain in the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-2df7644df06249a4be57ef48fb927d18
AP
Pitt running back Vincent Davis outruns the Georgia Tech defense as he scores a touchdown in the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-ea5c9e6f8bad4230876e88175f3ae31c
AP
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett scrambles away from Georgia Tech defensive lineman T.K. Chimedza as he looks for a an open receiver in the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-ae882c21d9a34a6d9db7c84f97462fbb
AP
Pitt running back Vincent Davis is tackled by Georgia Tech defensive lineman Djimon Brooks (86) during the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-a84220a13f1642158dcef871f8fc62bc
AP
Pitt wide receiver Maurice Ffrench can’t hang on to a pass in the first half against the Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-b11820c51609428db36f58aa9a9111eb
AP
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi embraces defensive back Jason Pinnock as he comes off the field in the second half against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-ae280789821b423889c763f37c12a132
AP
Pitt wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis (18) is brought down by Georgia Tech defensive back Juanyeh Thomas in the second half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.
1891742_web1_1891742-665f686a7b4541ab973030f3e67814fb
AP
Pitt linebacker Cam Bright (38) is chased by Georgia Tech wide receiver Adonicas Sanders (12) as he returns a fumble in the second half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — The ACC’s best run defense created the play of the game for Pittsburgh.

That defense also has the Panthers in position to contend for another shot at the ACC championship.

Kylan Johnson’s goal-line hit late in the third quarter forced a fumble, protecting Pitt’s lead, and the Panthers rode their dominant defense to a 20-10 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Pitt (6-3, 3-2 ACC) held Georgia Tech (2-6, 1-4) to 194 yards.

ACC Videos

“They played another outstanding game,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said of his defense. “You win championships with defense.”

Entering the game, the Panthers led the ACC with an average of 85.9 yards rushing allowed. They held the Yellow Jackets to 86 yards.

Pitt, the defending Coastal Division champion, became bowl-eligible.

Pitt led 17-10 when Georgia Tech drove for a potential tying score in the third quarter.

Johnson’s hit on Georgia Tech quarterback Lucas Johnson stopped the Yellow Jackets inches short of the goal line, forcing the fumble. Cam Bright returned the recovery 79 yards.

“I saw an open lane in front of me, so I just tried to scoop and score,” Bright said.

The play set up Alex Kessman’s 49-yard field goal. Instead of a tie, Pitt led by 10 points.

“It was a game-changer,” said Kylan Johnson, who said he was fine after suffering what he described as a shoulder stinger on the big hit. Lucas Johnson also was shaken up on the play.

Kenny Pickett threw for 204 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, and Vincent Davis had a 61-yard touchdown run on a wildcat play.

Davis ran through the middle of the line and made a cut to his left before finding open field to give Pitt a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

Pickett’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Shocky Jacques-Louis in the second quarter stretched the halftime lead to 17-7.

Pitt overcame three first-half turnovers.

In the first quarter, safety Juanyeh Thomas cut in front of Maurice Ffrench for Georgia Tech’s first interception. Pickett’s pass off the hands of tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart was intercepted by Tariq Carpenter later in the first quarter.

Georgia Tech couldn’t convert either interception into points but quickly capitalized when Ffrench’s fumble, forced by linebacker David Curry, was recovered by Jordan Domineck. On the next play, James Graham threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Ahmarean Brown.

After Graham completed only 2 of 9 passes for 54 yards in the first half, coach Geoff Collins started Lucas Johnson at quarterback in the second half. Graham returned after Johnson was escorted to the locker room following the big hit on his fumble at the goal line.

“Obviously, we would want to have that play back,” Collins said, adding there were other key plays “when you’re talking about a game with that small margin for error.”

Ffrench had 11 catches for 71 yards.

The Panthers rebounded from last week’s loss to Miami, finding a way to win with defense despite the turnovers and other blemishes. Pitt struggled on special teams, including a questionable decision by Ffrench to field a kickoff near the sideline at the 7.

Georgia Tech: The two quarterbacks combined to complete only 8 of 21 passes for 108 yards. Graham, a redshirt freshman, made an ill-advised deep pass in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by Paris Ford. After running for 141 yards in a win at Miami two weeks ago, Jordan Mason had 15 carries for 56 yards.

Panthers linebacker Phil Campbell III was ejected in the second quarter after a targeting call for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Graham.

Pitt sophomore running back Todd Sibley, the team’s second-leading rusher, was held out with an undisclosed injury. Narduzzi said free safety Damar Hamlin, also held out, could have played if needed.

Categories: Sports | Pitt
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.