True freshman Rushel Shell had a breakout game, rushing for 157 yards on 23 carries and Ray Graham added 94 on 24 carries and two rushing touchdowns (a third receiving as Pittsburgh rolled up 537 yards of total offense and upset No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17, on Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
True freshman Rushel Shell ran for 157 yards on 23 carries and led Pittsburgh to a 35-17 upset win against Virginia Tech on Saturday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Panthers defeated the Hokies for the fourth straight time in the series, which Virginia Tech leads, 7-5.
The Panthers (1-2), defeated the Hokies (2-1) for the fourth straight time in the series and kept Virginia Tech winless at Heinz in three attempts.
It was a stunning defeat for Virginia Tech against a team that had not looked competitive in losses to FCS Youngstown State (31-17) and Cincinnati (34-10) in the first two games of the Paul Chryst era.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri had an outstanding day, completing 19-of-28 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns against a Hokies secondary that was without All-ACC cornerback Kyle Fuller (shoulder contusion) for most of the game.
Sunseri’s favorite target, Mike Shanahan finished with 111 yards receiving on five catches, including the game-clinching 6-yard touchdown that capped a 15-play, 88-yard drive in the fourth quarter that consumed 7:44.
As impressive as Pittsburgh’s offense was, Virginia Tech’s was as anemic and mustered 324 yards (129 of which came on two long passing plays). Logan Thomas continues to be unimpressive and out of rhythm in the passing game and the Hokies could average only 2.1 yards per rush against a Panthers defense that came in ranked No. 106 nationally against the run.
The Hokies turned the ball over four times in the first half and fell behind, 21-0. Had it not been for Wide receiver Marcus Davis (four receptions, 129 yards, 85-yard touchdown) and rover Kyshoen Jarrett (94-yard punt return for a touchdown), the Hokies would not have even been in the game in the fourth quarter.
Here’s a look at how the scoring occurred.
Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17
Sunseri found Shanahan for a 6-yard touchdown pass and Kevin Harper’s extra point gave the Panthers the final margin of victory, 35-17, with 5:33 to play in the game.
The Drive- 15 plays, 88 yards, 7:44. Shell started the drive with gashing runs of 13 and 29 yards and Graham had a 12-yard run. Only two passing plays were called as the Panthers’ offensive line was getting a huge push at this point.
Pittsburgh 28, Virginia Tech 17
The Hokies struck quickly on this drive as Thomas found Davis for an 85-yard touchdown reception, one of the longest in school history. Journell’s extra point pulled Virginia Tech within 28-17 with 3:30 to play in the third.
The Drive- Three plays, 87 yards, 1:28. The long pass was the highlight of the drive.
Pittsburgh 28, Virginia Tech 10
After stopping the Hokies on downs at their 35, the Panthers go back down the field and score a touchdown on Sunseri’s 18-yard pass to Graham. Harper’s extra point extends Pitt’s lead to 28-10.
The Drive- Eight plays, 65 yards, 3:07. Shell rumbled 15 yards, then fumbled, but J.P. Holtz had a heads up play to recover it and the Panthers were in the end zone three plays later. There was also a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor that aided the drive.
Pittsburgh 21, Virginia Tech 10
Jarrett returns a punt 94 yards for the first Hokies touchdown of the game to pull Virginia Tech within 21-10 with 13:29 to play in the third quarter.
Pittsburgh 21, Virginia Tech 3
Journell hits a 32-yard field goal with 7:57 to play in the first half to pull the Hokies within 21-3.
The Drive- 11 plays, 60 yards, 5:06. Thomas got hot on this drive hitting the underneath routes. Thomas was 5-for-5 for 45 yards, but a sack late in the drive stalled it. Martin Scales also had 16 yards rushing on three carries.
Pittsburgh 21, Virginia Tech 0
After Holmes fumbles the ball away to the Panthers at the Hokies 10, Graham needs two rushes to find the end zone from 5 yards away. Harper’s extra point gives Pitt a 21-0 lead with 13:03 to play in the first half.
Pittsburgh 14, Virginia Tech 0
Sunseri hits Street for a 13-yard touchdown. Harper’s extra point gives the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 3:19 to play in the first quarter.
The Drive- Eight plays, 86 yards, 3:35. Though Sunseri did have a 40 yard completion to Shanahan on the drive, Shell’s emergence was big. He had back-to-back 11-yard runs just before the big completion.
Pittsburgh 7, Virginia Tech 0
Graham scores his first touchdown of the day with a 12-yard run, capping the first possession of the game. Harper’s extra point gives the Panthers an early 7-0 lead with 12:17 to play in the first quarter.
The Drive- Six plays, 75 yards, 2:43. Sunseri threw completions of 33 and 23 yards to Street and Drew Carswell, respectively. Graham rushed for 24 yards on four carries during the drive.