Panthers whip Hokies in BIG EAST tilt
By Jimmy Robertson
November 3, 2001

Pittsburgh quarterback David Priestley threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak to Tech by whipping the Hokies 38-7 in front of 55,585 fans at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

The loss marked Tech's second straight and tied for Tech's worst ever loss in the BIG EAST, equaling the 31-point beating suffered at Syracuse in 1996. It also ends the Hokies' hopes of winning the BIG EAST championship or gaining an at-large berth into the Bowl Championship Series.

The Hokies (6-2, 3-2) played poorly for the second consecutive week. Tech nearly gained more yards in penalties (120) than in total offense (151). And Tech's vaunted rushing attack amassed just 15 yards - the lowest output since a minus-14 yard performance against Miami in 1994.

"That was the Pittsburgh team I worried about all summer," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "They were an efficient, good team against us. And we're having trouble offensively. We leave our defense out on the field too long and then we misplay some coverages and they got some long balls on us.

"That was just not a good performance by Virginia Tech."

Priestley got the Panthers on the board with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant in the first quarter. Tech, though, tied the game when Ronyell Whitaker returned a blocked field goal attempt 71 yards for a touchdown.

That turned out to be the last time the Hokies sniffed the end zone. Priestley helped the Panthers regain the lead when he hit R.J. English for a 33-yard touchdown strike early in the second quarter. He added a 36-yard touchdown pass to Bryant right before halftime. For the game, he completed 16-of-26.

Tech, meanwhile, struggled offensively. Quarterback Grant Noel - hammered on nearly every play - completed 15-of-29 for 118 yards, but was picked off twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He also fumbled once and that too led to a Pittsburgh touchdown.

The Hokies also suffered losses in other ways. Receiver Shawn Witten broke his right leg and is out for the season, and Derrius Monroe (hip flexor), Larry Austin (hamstring) and Billy Hardee (knee) are questionable for the Hokies' game at Temple next weekend.

Tech takes on the Owls next Saturday at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.