Georgia Tech adds to Pitt’s frustration in first year in ACC
ATLANTA — The ACC isn’t exactly eating its young,
but it is making life rough on its newest members.
more to the point, Georgia Tech is making life rough on the conference
On the third play of the game, Jeremiah
Attaochu swept around the outside of Pitt freshman left tackle Dorian
Johnson, took four steps and nailed Tom Savage square in his chest,
dropping him for a 10-yard loss.
That sack, the first
of five by Yellow Jackets, set the tone. They overwhelmed the Panthers
21-10, giving them a dominant win to add to the 56-0 rout of the ACC’s
other new face, Syracuse, on Oct. 19.
allowed minus-5 rushing yards and a run game that helped the Jackets
pull away to move to 6-3 and 5-2 in the ACC.
said all along, if you can run the ball and you can stop the ball, you
usually have a good chance of winning,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul
As key as the win was for Georgia Tech,
getting it bowl eligible for the 17th straight season, it only
compounded things for the Panthers.
This has been,
without question, a trying year for them and the ACC’s other
Both are 4-4 overall, with the Panthers 2-3
in the league and Syracuse at 2-2 on the heels of its 13-0 win over
Wake Forest. But Pitt’s season has included more of a taste of the best
the league has to offer, and the results have been frustrating from the
The Panthers opened by hosting Jameis
Winston’s coming out party as the redshirt freshman dominated in Florida
State’s 41-13 win. While they rebounded by beating Duke — giving up 55
points in the process — and Virginia (now 2-7), they looked anemic in
falling to Virginia Tech 19-9.
But if there was one
thing play to Pitt’s advantage when it entered Bobby Dodd Stadium, it
was that it already had some familiarity with the spread-option offense.
The Panthers had just seen it the week before in
facing Paul Johnson’s former team, Navy, and allowed 220 yards on the
ground in a 24-21 loss.
But that extra week of
preparation didn’t matter much as the Jackets ran for 277 yards,
including 196 by halftime. That yardage included all three of Georgia
Tech’s touchdowns as David Sims ran it in from 12 yards out, while
Robert Godhigh had TDs of 35 and an 11-yarder in the fourth
“We saw some of the tendencies they used
against Navy and as an offensive line, for example, we saw how some of
their linebackers were running,” said Jackets redshirt senior guard Will
Jackson. “We knew we could base some of our calls based on how they
played against Navy. … it helped us out.”
coach Paul Chryst: “That’s a good offense. They got some things on us. I
thought our defense was well prepared and guys played hard and played
well in a lot of areas.”
There were moments, like the
third quarter in which the Panthers, held the Jackets to 39 rushing
yards in the third quarter and made it 14-10 with Savage’s 12-yard TD
pass to Tyler Boyd.
And of course, Aaron Donald, who
has been among the few bright spots for the Panthers all season. On
consecutive plays, the defensive tackle showed why he’s been garnering
With the Jackets on Pitt’s 34-yard
line in the second quarter, he broke through untouched to hit Zach
Laskey for a 2-yard loss on third down and when Georgia Tech opted to go
for it, Donald sacked Vad Lee.
He finished with 11
tackles, including six for loss and two forced fumbles.
“He’s a heckuva player,” Johnson said. “He created a
lot of havoc and created a lot of negative plays for
But there weren’t enough of them and now the
Panthers find themselves in a tough spot.
need just two wins to reach bowl eligibility, they face No. 25 Notre
Dame next weekend and close with No. 7 Miami.
chance of reaching the postseason basically lies with the games
sandwiched in between the Fighting Irish and Hurricanes, which includes a
date with the Orange on Nov. 23 at the Carrier
With Syracuse facing Maryland (5-3), the
Seminoles and Boston College (4-4), there remains the possibility, that
getting to a bowl in Year 1 in the ACC would mean needing to be the
other first-year team.
Given that Pitt and Syracuse
are a combined 2-6 vs. conference teams with winning records, there
would seem no more perfect ending.