ACC Game Stories, Week 5

Check below for game stories from all the ACC action this weekend. It’s listed in alphabetical order, by winning team.

Boyd Leads Clemson To 56-7 Win Over Wake Forest 

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris had two words of counsel this week for Tajh Boyd: “Have fun.”

It appears he got the message – loud and clear.

Boyd threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another score, leading the Tigers to a 56-7 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday. The terrific performance made him the second Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback to account for 100 career TDs.

“It was a fun game,” Boyd said. “I got a lot of chances to smile out there.”

Boyd’s return to form was part of a solid day on several fronts for the Tigers, (4-0, 2-0), who have won their first four games for the second time in the QB’s three seasons as starter.

Clemson figures to be the favorite the next two weeks against Syracuse and Boston College. Then the Tigers host undefeated ACC rival Florida State on Oct. 19.

Boyd accounted for five TDs in Clemson’s season-opening victory against Georgia, making the quarterback a contender for the Heisman Trophy and stamping the Tigers as a team to watch this season.

But Boyd was held without a scoring pass and played less than a half against South Carolina State. Then he looked out of sync in Clemson’s previous game, a 26-14 win at North Carolina State.

Morris thought Boyd was putting too much pressure on himself, and the quarterback said he just needed to relax to improve his play.

“The biggest thing for me is just to go out and enjoy,” playing football, Boyd said. “I’ve pretty much accomplished everything you can accomplish in a college career, minus a couple of things. But, now I’ve got to enjoy this last go-round with my guys.”

Boyd’s performance against Wake Forest left him at 102 TDs in college, joining former North Carolina State star Phillip Rivers in the ACC’s century club. Boyd passed for 311 yards and ran for 69 to surpass Charlie Whitehurst as Clemson’s total offense leader.

Morris worked hard to get Clemson’s high-speed offense back on track.

“This has been a very challenging week for those guys,” Morris said. “Just to get into a rhythm, get into a groove and not press.”

Boyd and the Tigers started fast against Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2).

Boyd had touchdown throws of 64 yards to Sammy Watkins, 75 yards to D.J. Howard and 14 yards to Mike Williams as Clemson built a 35-7 halftime lead.

Clemson’s single-game scoring record came in an 82-24 win over Wake Forest during the Tigers’ national championship season in 1981 – and they looked as if they planned to better that mark early on in this one.

Clemson scored on its first three possessions, with Boyd ending his mini-slump along the way. He connected with favorite target Watkins to get the scoring started. Zac Brooks added a 10-yard touchdown run before Howard turned a simple swing pass into a second long scoring play that brought Boyd to the century mark.

Rivers accounted for 112 touchdowns with the Wolfpack from 2000-03.

Wake Forest’s defense then stepped up, with nose guard Nikita Whitlock sacking Boyd to stall one series and the Demon Deacons sending the Tigers off the field for three straight three-and-outs.

But Boyd eventually cranked up the Tigers’ offense once again. He ended a 67-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run, powering through the line when he was initially stopped on a fourth-and-short leap.

Boyd’s final touchdown pass went to freshman Williams, a sliding 14-yard grab that gave Clemson a 35-7 lead. Williams was in because starter Martavis Bryant was held out the opening half after he made a throat-slash gesture when he scored at North Carolina State on Sept. 19.

The Tigers outgained Wake Forest 361-142 over the first 30 minutes. The Demon Deacons’ lone score came on Tanner Price’s 10-yard pass to Sherman Ragland III in the opening period.

Price had Wake Forest on the move on its next series until he fumbled on third down at the Clemson 32. The Tigers pulled away from there.

“They ran a lot of blitzes on defenses that made it tough for us to run a lot of offensive stuff,” Price said. “We’ve got to make some more plays.”

Things didn’t get much better for Wake Forest in the second half. Boyd was back for Clemson’s first series and directed a 10-play, 46-yard drive that finished with tailback C.J. Davidson’s first career score. Boyd was off to the sideline after that, smiling and enjoying watching the backups play.

The Demon Deacons managed just 80 yards in the second half. Coach Jim Grobe put freshman Tyler Cameron and little-used junior Patrick Thompson in at quarterback for Price. 

Clemson starting tailback Rod McDowell had just three carries before leaving with an ankle problem. He did not return, although Morris said he could have if the Tigers needed him to play.


Connette Leads Duke Past Troy For A 38-31 Win 

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – After Brandon Connette scored four touchdowns in the first half, Duke’s quarterback found it more difficult to move the ball down the field after halftime.

Fortunately for the Blue Devils, Troy’s quarterback could say the same thing.

“I look at the game kind of as an offensive shootout in the first half and a defensive stand in the second,” Connette said. “Luckily, we were able to win the first half and win the second half.”

In a game where much of the offense came before halftime, Connette threw three touchdowns passes and ran for two more to lead Duke to a 38-31 win over Troy on Saturday.

Connette, a junior from Corona, Calif., had 324 yards passing and 55 rushing. The five touchdowns are a career high for Connette, who threw for four scores in last week’s 58-55 loss to Pitt.

Josh Snead also had 108 yards rushing for the Blue Devils (3-2), who snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder also had 149 yards receiving for Duke, one week after a 141-yard receiving effort against Pitt.

Corey Robinson had 354 yards passing and two touchdowns for Troy (2-3), which lost its third in a row. Jordan Chunn added two touchdowns on the ground.

A holding penalty negated a 56-yard touchdown reception by Troy’s Chandler Worthy with 9:37remaining that would have given the Trojans the lead.

“I don’t always like how they call things, but it was a good play by Chandler, and we got some blocks,” said Troy coach Larry Blakeney. “It’s frustrating. It’s real frustrating to be that close.”

Duke’s defense struggled in recent weeks, yielding 344 yards rushing in its loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago and 424 yards passing to Pittsburgh last week.

While the unit had its troubles against the Trojans, it only allowed three points in the final 28-plus minutes, forcing a number of three-and-outs and only allowing one play longer than 20 yards during that span.

“We didn’t change up any schemes,” junior linebacker David Helton said. “We didn’t really change up anything. . We just made a decision that we’re not going to let them get any more yards.”

Before the defense buckled down, the Blue Devils built two separate 14-point leads before allowing Troy back in the game.

After Chunn scored on a 1-yard run shortly before halftime, Robinson connected Wilson Van Hooser for a 40-yard touchdown reception to tie the score at 28 with 13:15 left in the third quarter.

Duke converted on three different third-and-longs on its next drive, retaking a seven-point lead when Connette spun his way into the end zone from 4 yards out with 9:46 remaining.

The Trojans pulled within four points – 35-31 – when Will Scott hit a 37-yard field goal with 12:44remaining in the game.

But the Blue Devils’ defense stiffened from there, and Troy’s best offensive play – the 56-yard reception by Worthy – was called back.

Duke’s Ross Martin kicked a 34-field goal with 31 seconds remaining to give the game its final score. Troy got the ball on its 22-yard line with a chance to drive for a game-tying touchdown, but the Trojans’ last-second attempt at a Hail Mary was intercepted.

“There’s a lot of great things going on with this football program and this particular team,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. “This team is 3-2 the hard way.” 

Troy had only 186 yards of total offense in its 62-7 loss to Mississippi State last week.


East Carolina Rolls Past North Carolina 55-31 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s defense is battling the same struggles from a year ago while its high-scoring offense is misfiring. Now the Tar Heels are in a hole that could get deeper in the coming weeks.

The Tar Heels fell behind big and never recovered in a 55-31 loss to East Carolina on Saturday, which marked the program’s second home loss to the Pirates and first since 1975. And unlike last year when the defense struggled to match the play of a record-setting offense, there was plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball.

To listen to senior tailback A.J. Blue, the warnings came hours before kickoff.

“I saw it earlier today,” Blue said. “Just from the hotel, the bus ride over, you know, the lack of focus, guys talking about other things. Like I said, it’s ECU and nobody expects to lose to ECU, especially us. So the complacency was there definitely there, the lack of focus was there.”

UNC (1-3) got pushed around up front defensively, couldn’t pressure quarterback Shane Carden and couldn’t bring down Vintavious Cooper. Meanwhile, its offense didn’t get going until the Pirates had built a 35-10 third-quarter lead. And things could get tougher with a trip to Virginia Tech looming next week followed by a Thursday night home game against No. 15 Miami.

“You find out about yourself when things are bad,” coach Larry Fedora said, “and right now, they’re bad.”

For East Carolina (3-1), Carden threw three touchdown passes and ran for three scores, while Cooper ran for a career-high 186 yards. Cooper added eight catches for 70 yards, powering the Pirates in a surprisingly one-sided win against an instate rival that had beaten them in each of the past four seasons by at least 14 points.

East Carolina’s only win here in 1975 came before four Pirates assistant coaches were even born. But ECU finished with 603 total yards, the second-highest total ever allowed by UNC at home.

Carden connected with Justin Hardy for a 6-yard touchdown on the game-opening drive, then found Lance Ray for a 7-yard score on ECU’s third possession to make it 14-0. He followed that by scoring on a keeper to push the lead to 21-3 with 10:05 left in the second, the first of his three 1-yard rushing scores.

He added a fourth-and-1 deep ball to Ray for a 48-yard touchdown with 3:33 left, allowing the purple- and gold-clad Pirates fans crammed into a corner section of Kenan Stadium to savor this one just a bit more. Carden came back out once more to take a knee, then walked to the sideline to hug offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley followed by fourth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill.

It was a strong bounce-back performance from Carden, who threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times by Virginia Tech’s rugged defense in a 15-10 home loss two weeks ago. He threw for 376 yards, leading a no-huddle offense that ran 101 plays – the most ever run against North Carolina.

As for Cooper, he didn’t reach the end zone but was the driving force behind the Pirates’ offensive success nonetheless. He cracked the 100-yard rushing mark on his first carry after halftime and finished with career-highs in yards rushing, carries (35), catches and yards receiving.

It marked East Carolina’s third win ever against North Carolina and the first since beating the Tar Heels 34-31 on a last-second field goal at home in 2007. Last year, the Tar Heels shut down Carden and the Pirates offense in a 27-6 win here.

This time, it was ECU’s defense frustrating UNC quarterback Bryn Renner. The senior threw for 366 yards with three touchdowns, though the first didn’t come until after Chris Hairston’s 3-yard run made it 35-10 with 11:38 in the third.


Winston Helps No 8 Florida St Beat BC 48-34  

BOSTON (AP) – With a wave of his left arm, Jameis Winston motioned for Kenny Shaw to go long. With a heave by his right arm, the Florida State freshman delivered the ball in stride.

Winston threw for four touchdowns, including a 55-yard score as time expired in the first half on Saturday to help No. 8 Florida State rally from a slow start and beat Boston College 48-34.

BC opened a 14-point lead before the Seminoles scored the next three touchdowns, going ahead for good on the desperation heave to Shaw with 0:00 on the clock.

“I knew I had to pick things up,” said Winston, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 330 yards and ran 14 times for 67 more. “We harp on scoring before the end of the half. We did it yet again.”

The highest-scoring team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) topped 40 points for the fourth time this season. But they didn’t get the blowout they might have expected against a team that won just two games last season and finished last in the conference’s Atlantic Division.

“They came out firing,” Shaw said. “They came out playing better than we expected. I give them big ups for that.”

The Eagles (2-2, 1-1) took a 17-3 lead before Winston threw touchdown passes of 56 and 10 yards to tie it. BC got the ball with 1:49 left in the half and tried to run out the clock, but Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher used his timeouts to get the Seminoles the ball back at their own 40 yard-line with 50 seconds to play.

After Winston was sacked for a 9-yard loss, Devonta Freeman ran for 14 and the Seminoles hurried to the line of scrimmage to get one more play off. Winston received the snap just before time expired, eluded one tackler as he moved up in the pocket and another as he scrambled right, waved to Shaw to go deep and then let the ball go from his own 40 yard-line as he was hit.

Shaw got position on safety Spenser Rositano, jumped at the 5 yard-line, landed at the 1 and fell into the end zone for the touchdown.

“It couldn’t have been more on the money,” Shaw said. “I knew he could get it there. He can throw it probably on his knees to the end zone.”

Fisher said it wasn’t a desperation pass as much as a called play, with Shaw running a double fake before heading to the end zone. Shaw said he didn’t have any thought about breaking off his route to bail out Winston as he scrambled out of trouble in the backfield.

“There was no time left,” he said. “I was going to the end zone.”

For Boston College, it was a big swing in emotions after taking a lead, then almost getting back to the locker room with the game tied 17-all. The Seminoles barely got the snap off in time, BC coach Steve Addazio said, and twice the Eagles seemed to have him trapped in the pocket.

“It was close,” he said. “Then I got caught up with the fact that I thought we had him on the ground – twice. I’d seen that same thing happen on tape, where he’d spun out of a couple of tackles and threw a dart down field. Give him credit. He made a great football play.”

Winston added a fourth TD pass in the third quarter, a 10-yard score to Rashad Greene that made it 31-20.

Chase Rettig completed 19 of 29 passes for 197 yards and a career-high four touchdowns for BC (2-2, 1-1), including a 52-yard score to Myles Willis that cut a three-score lead to 38-27. But the Eagles quarterback also threw an interception early in the fourth that T.J. Williams returned 20 yards for a touchdown to make it 48-27.

Rettig was also picked off by Nate Andrews on a fourth-and-13 from the Florida State 21 yard-line with 2 minutes left. Andre Williams ran 28 times for 149 yards for the Eagles.

BC took the lead on its opening possession when Spiffy Evans returned a punt 19 yards to the Florida State 36 and Williams ran six times in seven plays before Rettig hit C.J. Parsons for a 6-yard TD pass. The Eagles made it 14-3 when Rettig connected with Jake Sinkovec for a 3-yard score.

It was 17-3 when Winston hit Greene for a 56-yard score, then went 4-for-4 and ran twice for 27 more yards on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that tied the game.


No. 15 Miami Routs USF To Improve To 4-0 

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Stephen Morris threw for two touchdowns before limping off with an ankle injury and Duke Johnson scored a TD in his eighth consecutive game, helping No. 15 Miami roll past winless South Florida 49-21 on Saturday.

Miami (4-0) is off to its best start in nine years heading into next weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener at home against Georgia Tech. At 0-4 under first-year coach Willie Taggart, USF is off to the worst start in school history and has dropped 13 of 14 dating to last season.

Morris threw for 222 yards, moving ahead of Steve Walsh and into ninth place on Miami’s career passing list. He tossed TD passes of 19 yards to Herb Waters and 34 yards to Stacy Coley as the Hurricanes scored on their first three possessions and amassed 251 yards of offense in the first quarter alone.

Johnson had a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and finished with 84 yards on 14 carries. Miami’s defense also scored, with Shayon Green sacking Steven Bench and forcing a fumble that Jimmy Gaines recovered for the sixth defensive TD scored against USF in four games.

USF’s offense has five touchdowns all season, including Marcus Shaw’s 3-yard run that made it 7-7. Shaw wound up with 127 yards rushing, but the Bulls’ offense didn’t come close to scoring again until Bench – their third starting quarterback in four weeks – threw a 16-yard TD pass to Derrick Hopkins with two seconds remaining.

Bench was 13-of-27 passing for 189 yards. He was intercepted once and lost two fumbles.

Morris was limited in practice early in the week after being hit on his right ankle during Miami’s 77-7 rout of Savannah State. He limped off the field early in the second quarter with the Hurricanes up 21-7 and did not return.

There was no immediate announcement on the severity of the injury, but he was walking on the sideline while backup Ryan Williams led the team in the second and third quarters.

Williams completed 8 of 14 passes for 153 yards and one TD before being replaced by redshirt freshman Gray Crow, who threw a fourth-quarter interception that defensive end Julius Forte returned 11 yards for USF’s second touchdown.

Despite USF’s struggles, Miami coach Al Golden entered the game wary of the Bulls coming off a bye week that gave them extra time to prepare for the Hurricanes.

Golden felt the first 15 plays of the game would be critical because USF figured to make some adjustments during the Bulls’ open date, and it was incumbent upon Miami to respond to those changes quickly.

And that’s exactly what Morris did against a defense that had been solid in USF’s first three games. Miami moved 77 yards in seven plays to score after the opening kickoff and drove 91 and 83 yards to add TDs on their next two possessions after having two big plays on special teams wiped out by penalties.

Miami’s Maurice Hagens was flagged for holding, wiping out what would have been a 101-yard kickoff return for Johnson. On the next change of possession, an illegal block call against Tracy Howard negated a long punt return by Phillip Dorsett. Undaunted, Morris responded each time by leading the Hurricanes down the field.

Miami gained 251 yards on its first three possessions, more than USF had ever allowed in a single quarter. It was 35-7 at the half – and could have been worse.

Miami lost two fumbles inside the Bulls 5 and also missed a 23-yard field goal. 

As he’s been all season, Shaw was the bright spot for USF. He had his third 100-yard game for the Bulls, who sputtered offensively after Shaw’s 44-yard run to the Miami 14 set up his second TD of the season.


Big 2nd Quarter Helps N.C. State Top Chippewas 48-14 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Shadrach Thornton got his starting job back for North Carolina State – and did his best to keep a hold on it.

Thornton and freshman Matt Dayes each had long scoring runs during the four-touchdown second quarter that propelled the Wolfpack past Central Michigan 48-14 on Saturday.

“When you get your spot back, man, it means a lot more to you and you take nothing for granted,” said Thornton, the team’s leading rusher last year. “You run every down as if it’s your last, because you never know.”

Thornton finished with 71 yards, and his 29-yard scoring run came shortly before Dayes’ 42-yard TD for N.C. State – which scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.

“It’s fun to be in a game” like that, first-year coach Dave Doeren said.

D.J. Green returned an interception 37 yards for the first score and Rashard Smith brought a punt back 67 yards for a TD to help N.C. State (3-1) build a 35-0 halftime lead.

“It’s tough to come back from that against a good football team like N.C. State,” Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said.

Pete Thomas was 14 of 20 for 244 yards with a late 80-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Underwood – his first TD pass since transferring in from Colorado State.

Thomas also capped the Wolfpack’s big second quarter by running 8 yards for a score.

Cooper Rush threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Titus Davis on the first play of the fourth quarter for the Chippewas (1-4), but also was intercepted three times.

Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore added a 38-yard touchdown run for Central Michigan – the only Mid-American Conference team to beat Doeren during his successful two-year run at Northern Illinois.

But the Chippewas didn’t advance further than the N.C. State 21 during the decisive first half. The Wolfpack finished by outrushing Central Michigan 239-94 and holding a 483-259 advantage in total yardage.

“Our lines and tight ends were getting beat, and our running backs couldn’t do anything,” Enos said. “When you get penetration like they did, your running backs are in trouble.”

Thornton made four starts last season but was suspended for the season opener following an offseason arrest and wasn’t listed on the two-deep roster issued earlier in the week by Doeren.

Thornton said that Doeren told him that “if you walk over coals, you’ll appreciate it more” and that he’s “just grinding, giving my all, showing the team that I want to be here and that I’m committed to them.”

He entered as the Wolfpack’s most efficient rusher this season, taking his only previous carry of the year 21 yards for a touchdown against Clemson last week.

This time, his scoring burst up the middle with 11:08 left in the half started N.C. State’s big second quarter and put the Wolfpack up 14-0.

Dayes then capped the Wolfpack’s next drive with his long scoring run – and at that point, they outrushed the Chippewas 174-3.

Those inside runs came as a result of the chess match between the two coaches: Central Michigan adjusted to the jet sweeps run early by the N.C. State receivers, so the Wolfpack counterpunched by pounding it between the tackles.

“I knew the inside run game would be good because of that,” Doeren said. “We’re just a couple strains away from popping some of these plays.”

The Wolfpack’s other touchdown in the return game came on Central Michigan’s first possession after Dayes’ touchdown.

Smith fielded Richie Hogan’s punt at his own 33 and broke first toward the right sideline, then back across the field for the touchdown.

That gave the Wolfpack TDs in all three phases in the same game for the first time since a victory over Liberty in 2011, according to STATS.

Thomas then scored on a keeper with 3:46 left in the half to cap the Wolfpack’s 28-point second quarter and put them up 35-0.

Green got things started for N.C. State with the team’s first interception of the season on Central Michigan’s second play from scrimmage, leaping to snag Rush’s throw and running untouched into the end zone. The other two picks came in the fourth quarter.

“They usually come in bunches” Doeren said.


Pitt Drops Virginia 14-3 For 3rd Straight Win 

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage grabbed his helmet and tried to walk onto the field late in the fourth quarter on Saturday against Virginia when wide receiver Devin Street stopped the woozy quarterback and told him maybe it wasn’t the best idea.

“He was a little dazed and confused,” Street said. “He was trying to stay in there. I told him to think about the big picture. We need him for the rest of the season.”

One that’s starting to look brighter by the game.

A week after getting shredded by Duke, Pitt’s defense keyed a 14-3 win over the Cavaliers in a victory that in brute force made up for what it lacked in aesthetics. The Panthers (3-1, 2-1 ACC) limited Virginia to 188 total yards and converted a pair of first-quarter turnovers into touchdowns to put together their first three-game winning streak since 2010.

“Two different weeks, two totally different types of games,” coach Paul Chryst said. “If we can keep growing and learning and play off each other, then we have a chance to be better.”

A lot of that, however, likely depends on Savage. The senior, who is flourishing this fall after missing two seasons while transferring from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt, was in the midst of a tough day that turned considerably more difficult late in the third quarter.

Savage broke loose for a 14-yard scramble when he slid to the ground. Virginia’s Daquan Romero slammed into Savage anyway. Their helmets collided and Savage grabbed his head immediately. No foul was called and Savage took eight more snaps – including a pair of sacks – before being pulled for Chad Voytik on Pitt’s final drive late in the fourth quarter

Pitt spokesman E.J. Borghetti said Savage was dealing with “concussion-like” symptoms. Asked if Savage passed a concussion test, Chryst said “he went and saw everyone and we felt that it was best to go with Chad.”

Savage wasn’t his normal self even before the hit. He took seven sacks in all and was shaken up on several occasions as the Cavaliers (2-2) spent most of the afternoon making things very uncomfortable in the pocket. Savage completed 13 of 30 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

The Panthers are off next week before traveling to Virginia Tech for another early season test in the crowded ACC Coastal Division. It’s unclear whether Savage will be available, though Pitt’s defense showed the Panthers can win all kinds of ways.

Taken to task after getting lit up by the Blue Devils, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald led a group that had its way with the erratic Cavaliers.

“The defense was tired of everyone saying the defense ain’t that, the offense is the only reason why Pitt is Pitt,” Boyd said. “They felt some type of way about that and did something about it.”

Boyd caught seven passes for 111 yards to become just the second freshman in school history to go over 100 yards receiving in three straight games. Still, even Boyd proved he was human, dropping two passes and fumbling near midfield in the third quarter.

Virginia’s defense had something to do with it in a game that featured 17 punts, five turnovers and zero momentum. Cavaliers’ quarterback David Watford completed 15 of 37 passes for 123 yards and Virginia converted just 3 of 18 third downs and 1 of 4 fourth downs.

“We created turnovers,” Cavaliers coach Mike London said. “We sacked the quarterback, and we hit the quarterback. And those types of things, when you do that, you expect the opportunities on the other side to give you a chance to score points.”

It never happened.

Two miscues deep in Virginia territory opened the door for Pitt to take command early.

Forced to punt midway through the first quarter, Pitt’s Matt Yoklic got off a low line drive that hit at the Virginia 35 and started rolling. Punt returner Dominique Terrell tracked the ball as it bounded down the field then decided to touch it despite having two Panthers right next to him. Trenton Coles fell on the loose ball at the Virginia 19. Four players later James Conner bulled over from 6 yards out, winning a brutal collision with Virginia safety Brandon Phelps at the Virginia 4 then high-stepping into the end zone.

Things only got worse on Virginia’s next possession as a snap from center Ross Burbank clanked off Watford’s hands. Bam Bradley picked it up and it took the Panthers 41 seconds to double its advantage as Savage hit Street on a perfectly executed fade route in the corner of the end zone.

Virginia’s best chance to make it interesting came late in the fourth quarter when Watford led a drive inside the Pittsburgh 5. His fourth-down pass to tight end Jake McGee sailed high and Pitt was able to run off most of the 3:30 remaining.

“We had a lot of drops today,” McGee said. “I don’t know how many, but it seemed like every pass play we were doing something wrong.”