Pitt falls in Atlanta

Chris Peak, Publisher
Panther-lair

PRE-GAME

- As expected, Ben DiNucci got the start at quarterback on Saturday.

- Jaryd Jones-Smith stayed in the starting lineup at right tackle, but Brandon Hodges is active and rotated in at right guard (shifting Alex Bookser to right tackle).

- Kam Carter did not make the trip to Atlanta after being sick throughout the week.

FIRST QUARTER

- Pitt won the toss and took the ball to open the game, and the Panthers' offense made the most of it, driving 78 yards on five plays to reach the end zone. The drive was highlighted by the return of Jordan Whitehead, who took a sweep 30 yards in his first action since returning from suspension. The scoring play was a 28-yard pass from DiNucci to Qadree Ollison.

PITT 7, GEORGIA TECH 0 - 12:18, 1st quarter

- Pitt's defense came up with a big play on Georgia Tech's first drive when GT fullback Kirvonte Benson fumbled and Whitehead recovered it at the Yellow Jackets' 33.

- The Panthers couldn't go up by two scores, though, as two incomplete passes and a one-yard rush brought Alex Kessman out for a 50-yard attempt that was wide right.

- Georgia Tech got its offense rolling on the next drive and hit paydirt when quarterback TaQuon Marshall broke off a 32-yard run to the end zone.

PITT 7, GEORGIA TECH 0 - 6:29, 1st quarter

- Pitt was looking to answer Georgia Tech's score, but nothing was happening for the Panthers as they went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Yellow Jackets.

SECOND QUARTER

- Georgia Tech's triple-option was working on the Yellow Jackets' possession that started at the end of the first quarter, as the home team marched 79 yards in 13 plays to score the go-ahead touchdown. The scoring play this time was another run by Marshall, who ran in from one yard out - one play after breaking an 18-yard run that almost crossed the goal line.

GEORGIA TECH 14, PITT 7 - 13:48, 2nd quarter

- Pitt managed a first down on its ensuing possession but not much more, as a DiNucci pass to Chris Clark on third-and-5 gained just one yard, leading to another punt from Ryan Winslow.

- The Panthers' defense came up with a nice stand on the next GT drive, giving up one first down but shutting down the Yellow Jackets after that to force their first punt of the game.

- And Quadree Henderson made Georgia Tech pay for the punt, catching the ball at the 20, back-tracking a bit and then flying down the sideline with some great blocking to tie the score with an 80-yard return.

PITT 14, GEORGIA TECH 14 - 8:05, 2nd quarter

- Pitt nearly had a big play on Georgia Tech's next drive when Marshall attempted a deep pass that was overthrown and intercepted by Dane Jackson, but Saleem Brightwell was called for a personal foul when he hit Marshall late, and the penalty wiped out the turnover.

But Pitt got it back on the next play when a GT handoff went flying loose and was recovered by Avonte Maddox.

- Pitt's offense couldn't capitalize on the momentum, though, as DiNucci did an impressive job avoiding pressure on third down, but Jester Weah dropped what would have been a sure first down pass, and the Panthers were punting again.

- When Georgia Tech got the ball back, the Yellow Jackets set out to get the fullback Benson going. The plan worked, as he ran five times for 40 yards on the drive, including a five-yard touchdown run to put GT back on top.

GEORGIA TECH 21, PITT 14 - 0:51, 2nd quarter

- Pitt took the ball with 47 seconds left in the half and drove 38 yards to the Georgia Tech 37, at which point Pat Narduzzi opted to send Kessman out for a 55-yard attempt. The kick looked like it was headed right but snuck inside the upright, cutting the Yellow Jackets' lead to four points heading into halftime.

GEORGIA TECH 21, PITT 17 - Halftime

Here's the halftime box score:

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THIRD QUARTER

- Pitt's defense started the second half on a strong note, forcing a three-and-out on Georgia Tech's offense for the first time all game.

- But the defense got no help from the Panthers' offense, as that side of the ball produced another three-and-out, punting and putting the defense back on the field again.

- All the time on the field is catching up to Pitt's defense, as Georgia Tech's offense reeled off an eight play, 57-yard drive that ended with a trio of runs for 40 yards from fullback Quaide Weimerskirch, including a 19-yard skip into the end zone.

GEORGIA TECH 28, PITT 17 - 6:05, 3rd quarter

FOURTH QUARTER

- Pitt's offense continues to sputter, as the post-touchdown drive produced one first down and little else before Winlow booted his fifth punt of the game.

- The Panthers got another turnover from their defense on Georgia Tech's next possession when the Yellow Jackets fumbled again and Jalen Williams recovered it.

- Once again, Pitt can't do anything with the turnover. After a five-yard loss on first down, DiNucci hit Henderson for five yards and then took a 15-yard sack on third down to go three-and-out yet again.

- Pitt's defense came up with another stop, forcing a three-and-out and Georgia Tech's third punt of the game on the next drive.

- Right on cue, the Panthers committed their first turnover of the game when a sweep handoff to Qadree Ollison on third-and-1 didn't go smoothly and hit the ground, where Georgia Tech recovered.

- Pitt's defense has had a good showing in the second half, and after a long Georgia Tech drive, the Panthers forced and recovered their fourth fumble of the game.

- For the next Pitt drive, Pat Narduzzi made the decision to put Max Browne in at quarterback, but the results didn't change: a one-yard loss on a run, a five-yard run and an incomplete pass. And most predictably, a punt.

- Georgia Tech's offense finally got it rolling again on the next drive, as Benson took the ball on first down and ran 47 yards for a touchdown.

GEORGIA TECH 35, PITT 17 - 5:37, 4th quarter

- Pitt stuck with Browne after Georgia Tech's fifth touchdown, but not much came of the change at quarterback, as the Panthers continued to flounder, finishing the game with 235 total yards and just 10 offensive points while generating nothing out of four turnovers.

FINAL: GEORGIA TECH 35, PITT 17

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