Big evening by Tech's offense lifts Hokies past Pittsburgh

1234F
(25) Virginia Tech (6-2) 610131039
Pitt (5-3) 01471536
  • Heinz Field - 40,254
  • Passing: Jerod Evans 406 yds
  • Rushing: Cam Phillips 43 yds
  • Receiving: Bucky Hodges 145 yds

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye tied a school and ACC record with six field goals and Jerod Evans threw for 406 yards and two touchdowns, lifting the Hokies to a 39-36 victory over Pittsburgh in an ACC game at Heinz Field on Thursday night.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 6-2 overall, 4-1 in the ACC and stayed in position with North Carolina in the battle for the Coastal Division crown. The Hokies also won in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1999 and won at Heinz Field for the first time.

“I’m awfully proud of our guys for the way they played,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said of his team. “Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, but we played a really good football team – a good football team in all three phases of the game. Every time we got a stop, or every time we gained yards, they were hard earned. Our kids did a great job battling through the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of the ball game. We found a way to get the job done, and I’m awfully proud of kids. It was a great team effort.”

Pittsburgh (5-3, 2-2 ACC) tied the game at 29 on a 5-yard touchdown run by offensive lineman Brian O’Neill and two-point conversion pass from Nathan Peterman to James Conner with 13:25 left in the game. But the Hokies took a 32-29 lead on Slye’s sixth field goal, which came with 9:39 to go, and then Evans threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Ford with 7:20 remaining, giving the Hokies a 39-29 lead.

The touchdown reception capped a string in which Tech scored on six straight possessions. The Panthers scored on a touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman to Jester Weah with a little more than 2 minutes left, but the Hokies got a first down on the ensuing possession and ran out the clock.

Tech finished with 556 yards of offense. Evans completed 24 of 40, and Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips all finished with more than 100 yards receiving – marking the first time in school history that three players have caught more than 100 yards worth of passes in a single game.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers finished with 458 yards.

BIG PLAYS

• Tech came out throwing in this one, and Evans completed four passes of 10 or more yards on the first drive of the game. The longest was a 27-yard play to Ford, and a 24-yard one to Ford two plays later got the Hokies to the Pittsburgh 13. The drive ended with a 31-yard field goal by Slye to give Tech a 3-0 lead.

• Tech’s second score came courtesy of a Pittsburgh turnover. On the ensuing kickoff after the Hokies’ first score, Pittsburgh’s Quadree Henderson caught the ball and turned up field, but was stripped by Divine Deablo, and Tech’s Jovon Quillen recovered. That led to a 21-yard field goal by Slye to give the Hokies a 6-0 lead.

• Pittsburgh had the Hokies stopped on a drive at the end of the first quarter, but officials called offsides on the Panthers, leaving the Hokies with a third-and-3. Tech converted when Cam Phillips rushed for 9 yards on the next play. The drive ended with a 22-yard field goal by Slye.

• Another Pittsburgh penalty helped the Hokies score toward the end of the first half. Ryan Lewis and Bucky Hodges got tangled up near the goal line and Lewis received a flag for pass interference, giving the Hokies a first down at the Pittsburgh 21. That ultimately led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Chris Cunningham.

• Evans’ best pass of the game came late in the third quarter when he completed a beautiful ball to Cam Phillips for a 35-yard gain to the Pittsburgh 2. On the next play, Marshawn Williams scored, giving the Hokies a 29-21 lead.

• Tech’s final touchdown came on a drive that lasted just three plays. Evans got the drive started with a 41-yard pass to Phillips. Two play later, he hit Ford for the 16-yard touchdown.

GAME NOTES

• Ford’s 16-yard touchdown reception marked the 23rd of his career and enabled him to break the school record that he shared with former receiver Antonio Freeman.

• The game marked the third time in Ford’s career that he has caught at least 10 passes. He caught a career-high 12 in Tech’s win over Tulsa in the Independence Bowl last December and 11 in the Hokies’ season-opening win over Liberty.

• Slye’s six field goals tied former kicker Mickey Thomas’ school record. Thomas hit six field goals in a 1989 game against Vanderbilt at Lane Stadium. Slye also tied an ACC record that he now shares with four other kickers.

• In addition, Slye’s 21 points also set the Tech single-game record for points by a kicker. Thomas’ 18 points in the 1989 game had been the previous mark.

• Slye has made nine field goals combined the past two games. Eight of the nine have been from inside of 40 yards, and he has made all 20 of his attempts inside of 30 yards for his career.

• Evans’ 406 passing yards were the third-most in a single game at Tech. Don Strock threw for 527 against Houston in 1972 and Bryan Randall threw for 504 in the Hokies' triple overtime loss at Syracuse in 2002.

• Evans' two touchdown passes gave him 21 on the season - the most by a first-year starting quarterback at Tech (Logan Thomas, 19).

• Hodges finished the game with six catches for a career-best 145 yards. The game marked just the second of his career in which he went over the 100-yard mark in receiving yardage (101 vs. Duke last year).

• Phillips set career highs in receiving yardage (109) and rushing yardage (43). The game marked his first 100-yard receiving performance in his career.

• Cunningham’s 11-yard touchdown reception marked his third of the season. He only has five receptions on the year.

UP NEXT

The Hokies will head to Durham, North Carolina for a game against Duke on Nov. 5. Tech has lost to the Blue Devils in two of the past three meetings. The kickoff time has not been decided yet.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter and on Instagram @vthokiefootball Instagram

HokieSports Shop