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September 28, 2013

Woeful on offense, UVa falls 14-3

Pittsburgh turned a pair of early UVa turnovers into touchdowns and the Panther defense did the rest in a 14-3 victory on Saturday.

Tom Savage completed 13 of 30 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions before leaving late in the fourth quarter. Tyler Boyd caught seven passes for 111 yards for Pitt. The Panthers (3-1, 2-1 ACC) have won three straight for the first time since 2010.

A week after giving up 55 points to Duke, Pitt's defense shut down the Cavaliers (2-2, 0-1). Virginia managed just 188 total yards. Quarterback David Watford completed 15 of 36 passes for 122 yards and Virginia never threatened to make it interesting after spotting the Panthers two first-quarter scores.

Both teams came in riding high. Pitt piled up 589 total yards in a shootout win over the Blue Devils while Virginia pounded VMI 49-0.

The going was considerably tougher for both sides in a game to make some sense of the jumble behind Virginia Tech in the ACC's Coastal Division. Instead, it proved to be a jumbled mess.

The teams combined for 17 punts, five turnovers and zero momentum.

Virginia pounded away at Savage, preventing Pitt's high-power passing attack from getting going. Savage was sacked nine times and didn't come out for Pitt's final series after taking a series of shots.

The Cavaliers were no better. Virginia botched a pair of fourth downs in Pittsburgh territory in the first half -- eschewing makeable field goals in the process. They were points Virginia could have used late.

Virginia's best chance came late in the fourth quarter when Watford led a drive inside the Pittsburgh 5. His fourth-down pass to tight end Jake McGee sailed high and Pitt was able to run off most of the 3:24 remaining.

What the victory lacked in aesthetics, it made up for in meaning for the Panthers. Pitt plays at Virginia Tech next week with a chance to move into a tie for the top spot in the Coastal Division and a string of winnable games to follow.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, continued to yo-yo between good and awful. They opened the season by edging BYU before getting stomped by No. 2 Oregon. They responded by drilling overmatched VMI but that sizzle was long gone on Saturday.

Two miscues deep in Virginia territory opened the door for Pitt to take command.

Forced to punt midway through the first quarter, Pitt's Matt Yoklic got off a low line drive that hit at the Virginia 35 and started rolling. Punt returner Dominique Terrell tracked the ball as it bounded down the field then decided to touch it despite having two Panthers right next to him. Trenton Coles fell on the loose ball at the Virginia 19. Four players later Conner bulled over from 6 yards out, winning a brutal collision with Virginia safety Brandon Phelps at the Virginia 4 then high-stepping into the end zone.

Things only got worse on Virginia's next possession as a snap from center Ross Burbank clanked off Watford's hands. Bam Bradley picked it up and it took the Panthers 41 seconds to double its advantage as Savage hit Street on a perfectly executed fade route in the corner of the end zone.

The cushion proved to be more than enough as Pitt's defense finished off an impressive turnaround with a little help from the lifeless Cavaliers.



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