A tale of two halves: UVA adjustments key road win

uva footballA battle for the ACC Coastal title in the season opener? A matchup between the defending division champion Pitt and 2019 preseason favorite Virginia played out on the final evening of August here on the Steel City’s North Shore.

It was billed as a matchup that could decide who battles Clemson in December in Charlotte for the ACC championship.

After the Cavaliers jumped out early to a 10-0 lead, it was the Panthers that owned the second quarter and left Heinz Field with a 14-13 lead at the half.

But after a dominating second-half performance, it was Virginia not Pitt that took an incremental step closer to Charlotte, N.C., here Saturday with an impressive 30-14 win.

Pitt, a team built on a strong running attack, couldn’t sustain any offense, passing or rushing over the final 30 minutes. Panthers veteran signal caller Kenny Pickett, after a slow start, finished the first half completing 11-of-13 pass attempts to close the half, sparking the Panthers to consecutive scoring drives and the 14-13 lead at the break.

A short-lived lead, though, it turned out to be.

Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins spent the second half dodging Panther defenders, placing the Pitt secondary under intense pressure that they failed to respond to.

Perkins hit wideout wideout Hassise Dubois for a 13-yard score in the third, putting the Cavaliers up 23-14.

After the Perkins TD pass, the Panthers drive chart was just down right ugly, reading a missed field goal (50 yards), punt, punt, interception and turnover on downs.

For the Cavalier defense, that was called answering the bell. Maybe not a Steel Curtain performance, but in the end it was performance worthy of a curtain call.

On the offensive side for Virginia it was simple. Perkins simply kept the clock running, and the backfield did the what was necessary to gain the win.

Column by Scott German

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