October 17, 2014
Hokies fall 21-16 at Pittsburgh
By Jimmy Robertson
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Virginia Tech (4-3) 063716
Pitt (4-3) 770721
  • Heinz Field - 43,125
  • Passing: Michael Brewer 265 yds
  • Rushing: Sam Rogers 19 yds
  • Receiving: Cam Phillips 59 yds

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer threw for 265 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hokies fell 21-16 to the Pittsburgh Panthers in an ACC game Thursday night at Heinz Field.

The loss left Tech at 4-3 overall, 1-2 in the ACC. Pittsburgh, which had lost three straight games, moved to 4-3, 2-1 in the league.

The loss marked the latest in tough losses in the Steel City. The Hokies haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1999 (four straight losses), and they’ve lost to the Panthers in five of the past six meetings.

The Hokies struggled for much of the game offensively and didn’t get into rhythm until the final couple of drives. Tech finished with just 291 yards of offense and converted on just two of 14 third-down situations.

On two occasions, Tech drove inside the Pittsburgh 10, but had to settle for Joey Slye field goals. Slye made three field goals in the game

“We’re not consistent enough,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said of the offense. “There’s no question about that. We’ve got to keep working. There’s a lot of football left to play. I’m not happy with our consistency, that’s for sure.”

In spite of that, the Hokies had their chances. They trailed just 14-9 in the fourth quarter and drove into Pittsburgh territory. A 12-yard pass from Brewer to Cam Phillips got the Hokies to the Pittsburgh 38, but left them two yards short of a first down. The Hokies went for it, but a Brewer pass to Willie Byrn was off the mark, giving the ball back to the Panthers.

Two plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone. Pittsburgh quarterback Chad Voytik gained 49 yards on a run to the Tech 13, and on the next play, tailback James Conner scored on a 13-yard run - his second touchdown run of the game - with 13:07 remaining. The extra point gave the Panthers a 21-9 lead.

The Hokies did cut into the lead when Brewer threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Phillips with 4:52 left that made it 21-16, and the Hokies got the ball back with 2:30 remaining.

On first-and-10 from the Tech 46, Brewer was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Pittsburgh’s Nicholas Grigsby – arguably the biggest play of the game. An incompletion and a 9-yard pass to Willie Byrn forced the Hokies to go for it on fourth-and-11. Brewer couldn’t connect with Phillips on the fourth-down play, and the Hokies turned the ball over on down. Pittsburgh then ran out the clock.

Brewer completed 26-of-45 for the game, with a touchdown. The Hokies, playing without injured tailbacks Marshawn Williams, Trey Edmunds and Shai McKenzie, rushed for just 26 yards, their fewest since rushing for 23 yards in a 22-10 loss to Clemson in 1987 – Beamer’s first season.

Tech hopes to get Williams back for its next game against Miami.

“We didn’t run the ball well, and obviously that allows the defense to pin their ears back and rush the passer more and drop people in coverage,” Brewer said. “That was tough that we couldn’t get the run game going. At the end of the day, we just didn’t make enough plays all around the board to get this thing done.”

Voytik paced Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, finishing 118 yards on 19 carries.

The Hokies return to action next Thursday when they take on the ’Canes at Lane Stadium. The kickoff time is slated for 8 p.m.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Brewer said. “This conference, especially on our side, is shaken up so much already. You really have no idea what’s going to happen. If we keep our heads down and keep moving forward, I think we’ll be OK.”

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