PITTSBURGH — Broderick Snoddy ran for 82 yards and three touchdowns and Georgia Tech took advantage of six Pittsburgh turnovers in a 56-28 win on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets (6-2, 3-2 ACC) ended a two-game losing streak by racing to a quick 28-0 lead, with each touchdown following a Panther fumble. Pitt (4-4, 2-2) gave the ball away on each of its first five possessions.
Justin Thomas passed for 147 yards and a touchdown and added 92 yards rushing and a score. Georgia Tech rolled up 615 total yards against the Panthers, who came in with the nation’s fourth-ranked defense. The 56 points put up by the Yellow Jackets are the most ever by an opponent at Heinz Field.
James Conner rushed for 119 yards and three scores for Pitt but the Panthers never drew closer than 14 after spotting the Yellow Jackets a four-touchdown advantage. Pitt had 518 yards of total offense but was never really in it on a day the school broke out its old script logo on the helmets, hoping to provide a boost.
It didn’t happen. Not even close.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson challenged his defense after the Yellow Jackets gave up 579 yards in a loss to North Carolina last week, saying his team needed to become more aggressive.
Pitt did its part to help during a comical opening 10 minutes that practically gifted Georgia Tech a massive lead before the game was halfway through the first quarter. The Panthers fumbled four times in their first six plays, finding increasingly elaborate ways to give the Yellow Jackets the ball.
Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik fumbled on the game’s second snap when he was popped by Georgia Tech’s Isaiah Johnson on a read-option. Conner was inches away from a 75-yard touchdown run only to have D.J. White punch it out of Conner’s hands and out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback.
Isaac Bennett was in the middle of getting pushed back for a loss only to have the ball come loose before getting to the ground. Tyler Boyd made an impressive spin to get out of a tackle following a short grab, only to have the ball knocked out while stretching for extra yardage.
The Yellow Jackets wasted little time turning each miscue into a touchdown, including a 79-yard catch-and-run by Charles Perkins and a pair of scoring sprints by Snoddy.
At one point the Pitt student section chanted "Hold That Ball" out of exasperation. It didn’t work. Voytik botched a snap on the Panthers’ fifth possession and the Yellow Jackets fell on it once again, giving them five fumble recoveries in the first quarter, or four more than they had the entire season coming in.
The Panthers regrouped to draw within 28-14 at the half. Conner left briefly with a right knee injury but returned to score a pair of short touchdowns. The Panthers had a chance to draw closer late in the second quarter but Pitt chose to punt on fourth-and-3 from the Georgia Tech 43.
The Yellow Jackets missed a field goal to end the half but momentum had shifted. Georgia Tech opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive, the final 28 coming on Snoddy’s third score.
The junior came in with 61 yards on the season but surpassed that as a speedy outside alternative to the inside running of Thomas and Synjyn Days, who ran for a career-high 110 yards while filling in for injured Zach Laskey.
Georgia Tech’s win further muddled a wide-open ACC Coastal Division, where six of the seven teams now have at least two conference losses. The one that doesn’t — Duke — plays at Pitt next Saturday.