The Virginia Cavaliers’ defense is going to look back on the 2021 season with incredible frustration.
In three of UVA’s five losses this season, the offense has scored 59, 49, and now 38 points just to watch the defense give up more.
Saturday’s game in Pittsburgh was no different as the Cavaliers’ defense allowed Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Panthers score 48 points including 24 points in the second quarter alone and 14 points down the stretch in the 4th quarter.
Brennan Armstrong returned to the UVA QB position and didnt miss a beat after being out for last week’s game against Notre Dame. The lefty QB threw for 487 yards and three touchdowns to put together a 173.1 QB rating. He threw an interception as time expired at the half as the only real blemish on a night he was running for his life quite a few times as the Pitt defense was able to sack Armstrong five times.
Pickett lived up to the top QB hype he has around him amassing 340 yards and four touchdowns for a 155.5 QB rating. UVA was only able to sack him three times, but Pickett threw two interceptions on the night including one that allowed UVA to convert into a field goal.
UVA started the game with renewed excitement with Armstrong back. The offense put together a 10 play 70 yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, that would be the only time the Hoos would lead during the game.
The two would be tied 14-14 a little over halfway through the second quarter when Pitt would take the lead back with a 98 yard kickoff return that seemed like it could be a back breaker as UVA would go on to punt the following possession.
Much will be written about the UVA defense and the points they gave up, but there were many possessions in the second half where they came up with a stop allowing the UVA offense to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead with a touchdown or tie with a field goal. Unfortunately, after it was tied 31-31 with five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, that wouldn’t happen.
No, the Pitt drive that will be written about for weeks to come came on Pitt’s first drive of the 4th quarter.
UVA would seemingly force the Panthers’ offense off the field only for a penalty to negate the play allowing Pitt to continue the drive. With Kenny Pitckett out, Pitt turned to Nick Patti on 4th and 1 on the UVA 30. Patti threw the ball up after escaping pressure and missed his receiver badly only for UVA’s Coen King to commit a bad pass interference penalty.
Three plays later the UVA defense would again hold serve forcing Pitt into a field goal only to jump offsides giving Pitt another first down.
Three plays later Pitt would get into the endzone to take a 10 point lead with just 9:43 left in the game.
UVA would score just two plays later to keep the game manageable and the two teams would trade punts until the final defensive miscue would put the nail in UVA’s coffin.
Pitt would have the ball with 3:47 left while UVA would have just two timeouts left. The defense would use those timeouts and force a 3rd and 5 and the game on the line. The Cavaliers’ pressure would nearly get to Pickett, until he would find a seemingly wide open Jordan Addison after Darius Bratton fell down in coverage. Bratton would get up and nearly get the interception until Addison ripped it down and ran for a 65 yard touchdown to put UVA out for good.
The loss moves the Hoos’ record to 6-5 on the season with the regular season finale against the Virginia Tech Hokies coming next week. The Coastal Division title is no longer in play for UVA, but beating the Hokies and maybe keeping them out of a bowl (5-5 right now and playing Miami late Saturday night) would be a great feeling.