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Virginia falls 45-31 to Pittsburgh in a shootout

After a first half shootout, Smoke Mizzell and Virginia falters in the second half in a 45-31 loss to Pitt.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After a thrilling back and forth first half, the Virginia Cavaliers offense fell silent in the second half in a 45-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Pitt led at halftime 35-28 in a shootout in front of the Homecomings crowd. The eventful first quarter included 4 combined TDs of 35 yards or more. Twice the Panthers' kickoff return team answered Virginia touchdowns, once with a 93-yard touchdown return and once with a 63-yard return. Virginia QB Kurt Benkert was having a stellar first half with 185 yards and TD before a pick 6 gave Pitt the lead at the half.

The second half was a different story as the Hoos did not cross into Pitt territory until the closing minutes. The Panthers defense sent blitz after blitz at Benkert which threw him off his game resulting in five straight punts for the Hoos. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh relied on their ground game to dominate the time of possession to take a 45-28 lead.

Benkert finished with 20 of 45 with 278 passing yards with one TD and the costly interception. Smoke Mizzell led the team with 95 rushing yards. Quin Blanding was the star for the defense with 10 solo tackles.

Virginia falls to 2-4 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC. The Hoos host North Carolina next week at 3pm.