After truly competing against #17 North Carolina last week, the Virginia Cavaliers hosted the Pittsburgh Panthers today looking to keep the positive momentum flowing and keep the dream of bowl eligibility alive for another week.
Unfortunately for Tony Elliott and company, that went out the window almost immediately. With UVA receiving the first kick, the Wahoo offense took the field. On the very first play from scrimmage, Brennan Armstrong telegraphed a pass to Sackett Wood in the flat which M.J. Devonshire jumped, intercepted, and took to the house to give the Panthers a seven-point lead after just five seconds of gameplay.
After Pitt kicked the extra point and then sent the ball back to the ‘Hoos, the UVA offense came back out hoping for an effective response. Yet, in perhaps the most dramatically bad first two plays of a game in program history, Armstrong threw his second consecutive pick, this time caught by Marquis Williams and brought back for another score which completely took the sails out of both Scott Stadium and the Virginia sideline as the ‘Hoos found themselves in a 14-point hole after a mere 16 seconds.
That was, essentially, the game. After Virginia punted on the following two offensive possessions, Kedon Slovis and the Pitt offense proceeded to drive down the field twice to score two more touchdowns and consequently completely bury UVA, 28-0 with time still on the clock in the first quarter.
While the bludgeoning stopped after that as Virginia’s defense found ways to limit the bleeding, the offense didn’t get on the board until Malachi Fields had a tremendous jump-ball catch in the end-zone for a nine-yard touchdown with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter. Fields was probably the biggest bright spot for UVA on the day as he caught a career high five passes which went for 58 yards and that touchdown which was the first of his career.
Still though, the UVA offense couldn’t rely on the running game as the Wahoo backs ran for just 38 yards on 14 carries (2.7 yards per carry) as the Pitt defensive line dominated this game, also sacking Armstrong eight times. As such, Pitt’s field goal in the third period and two more in the fourth put the game on ice and ensured that the Panthers advance to 6-4 on the season with the 30-point victory.
We’ll have more analysis of this game up soon. But, for now, it’s hard to not be incredibly pessimistic about this team and, to a certain extent, this program. Yes, as we’ve said plenty of times, this is still year one of the Elliott era so there were always going to be kinks. A bad offensive line, injuries to wide receivers that were already underperforming, and other factors have contributed, but it’s hard to feel much confidence about where Tony Elliott and his staff are taking UVA football. Hopefully I’ll be eating my words a few years down the line, but being 3-7 and missing out on a bowl game with this roster has to be considered a disappointment.