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Virginia Football falters on road at Pitt, falling 31-14

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Hoos still in search of bowl eligibility after failing to pick up win against the Panthers

NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Football (5-3, 2-2 ACC) fell 31-14 on the road to the Pittsburgh Panthers as the Hoos struggled for the second straight week to pick up the elusive sixth win that would give them the coveted bowl eligibility.

After a slow start, Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert finished 22-for-42 for 212 yards and two touchdown passes. Running back Jordan Ellis had 15 carries for 58 yards and both Hasise Dubois and Richard Burney hauled in touchdowns for the Hoos.

For Pitt (4-5, 2-3 ACC), Ben Dinucci had 134 yards on 10-for-18 passing with one touchdown and one interception. Darrin Hall finished with 111 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown, and the Panthers got great performances from Quadree Henderson (one punt return TD) and Qadree Ollison (one rushing TD).

Pittsburgh got on the board first on a 14-yard rush by Darrin Hall.

Virginia had a couple opportunities in Pitt territory - one time following a big 69-yard punt return by Joe Reed - but were unable to convert. Their first trip into Panther territory, Benkert recorded his fifth interception of the season. Then, the Hoos turned it over on downs on a missed 43-yard field goal by first year AJ Mejia and on a failed fourth down conversion.

Pittsburgh got their second score of the day on a Jester Weah reception for 19 yards and the 14-0 lead.

Virginia’s defense appeared to have Pittsburgh tied up twice on their next drive, but a questionable roughing the passer call and a pass interference call extended the possession. The Hoos escaped a bigger hole when Pitt pushed a 43-yard field goal of their own wide, but Virginia was unable to make anything happen on the ensuing offensive possession.

On the next punt, Quadree Henderson returned the ball 75-yards for a touchdown, effectively putting the game out of reach as the Panthers took a 21-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the half.

The Hoos got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter after Benkert found Doni Dowling for a big pickup down the sideline, then fired a laser in to Hasise Dubois for a touchdown.

Virginia was unable to make anything happen on their first possession of the second half, and Pitt marched down the field to extend their lead to 28-7 on a 25-yard touchdown run by Qadree Ollison.

In a much needed score, the Hoos closed the score to 28-14 on a fourth-and-one touchdown pass to tight end Richard Burney from the two yard line, but the Cavalier defense let Pitt march down the field and respond with a field goal.

Virginia put together a lengthy drive, culminating in a brutal turnover on downs as Jordan Ellis came up just short of a touchdown with under five minutes left in the game.

It looked as if Olamide Zaccheaus had hauled in one last touchdown for the Hoos, but dropped the ball in the endzone in no coverage.

Not without some positive news, fourth year defensive back Quin Blanding took over the top spot for career tackles in the Virginia record books.