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Virginia Tech gets 8 sacks to stop Pitt

The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Pittsburgh had no answer for Virginia Tech's aggressive defensive front Saturday at Lane Stadium.

The 24th-ranked Hokies recorded a season-high eight sacks and held the Panthers to only 210 total yards in a 19-9 Atlantic Coast Conference victory.

Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 in the ACC) became bowl eligible with its sixth consecutive win, and it broke a four-game losing streak to the Panthers (3-2, 2-2).

"When you know you can just pin your ears back and get after the quarterback and they can't really do much about it, that's fun because you're just attacking," Virginia Tech senior linebacker Jack Tyler said. "As a defensive player, that's what we love to do is attack, attack, attack. When you're able to do that it's a lot of fun."

It was an enjoyable day for the Hokies' defense. In addition to the sacks -- Virginia Tech's highest total since recording eight against Duke in 2006 -- the Hokies hit Pitt quarterback Tom Savage several more times.

"It feels great to get back there and get sacks and get pressure on the quarterback," said Virginia Tech senior defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins, who had a career-high two sacks. "We missed at least eight, but that's the game of football. You make some and you miss some."

Hokies defensive end Dadi Nicolas had three sacks and seven tackles, both career highs. He played as a stand-up linebacker most of the game, and his only task was to rush the quarterback.

"We felt like Dadi Nicolas could get a mismatch on the tight end blocking and get a lot of pressure, and I know he will be wanting to get some more reps at that spot," Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.

Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas passed for 239 yards and one touchdown while extending his streak without an interception to three games.

Senior kicker Cody Journell provided most of Virginia Tech's offense with a career-high four field goals.

Thomas connected with freshman tight end Kalvin Cline on a 27-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter and Journell booted a career-high 48-yard field goal a few minutes later to extend the lead.

Journell added three field goals in the second half to put the Hokies ahead 19-3.

Savage had a 9-yard touchdown run late in the game to cut the deficit to 19-9. He was sacked on the two-point conversion attempt.

"They have a heck of a defense. Tommy's protection was an issue. It's clearly something we've got to clean up," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said.

NOTES: The Hokies ended a streak of 10 games with at least one interception. ... Tailback Joel Caleb and linebacker Josh Trimble made their first career starts for Virginia Tech. ... Pitt senior DT Aaron Donald has recorded a sack in all five games this season. He has 26.5 sacks for his career, tied for fourth place in the Panthers' record book. ... Pitt freshman tailback James Conner sustained a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return.
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