UVA raced out to a 24-3 halftime lead, but Pitt hung around until the late stages before finally falling, 24-19, before 43,307 in Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday night.
With the win, the ‘Hoos improve to 2-0 in the ACC, and are tied for first place with Georgia Tech in the race for the Coastal Division title.
It looked from the outset like a dominant performance in the making for the Cavaliers. Tied 3-3 at the end of the first quarter, Virginia (4-2, 2-0 ACC) got a 48-yard touchdown run from kevin parks at the 10:51 mark of the second quarter to go up 10-3. A Matt Johns-to-Khalek Shepherd 3-yard touchdown pass with 3:58 to go put the Cavs up 17-3, and it seemed like it was headed that way going into the locker room.
Linebacker Max Valles intercepted a Chad Voytik pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown that sent the game to the break with UVA up 24-3.
Alec Vozenilek’s punt after a three-and-out on Virginia’s first possession of the second half was partially blocked, and Pitt took advantage of the short field, on a Voytik 17-yard TD pass to Manasseh Garner that cut the deficit to 24-10 at the 11:02 mark of the third.
Pitt (3-3, 1-1 ACC), after intercepting a Johns pass, drove to the UVA 1, and appeared to score on a 2-yard run by James Conner, but a replay review put Conner down inside the 1, and a false-start penalty on the next play, a third-and-goal, pushed Pitt back outside the 5. A Voytik pass into the end zone was incomplete, and Pitt settled for a 24-yard Chris Blewitt field goal that made it 24-13 with 3:52 to go in the third quarter.
The Panthers drove to the Virginia 31 midway through the fourth quarter, but an Anthony Harris sack on first down turned that drive out. UVA seemed poised to run the clock out in the final two minutes, but after being forced to punt, Tyler Boyd returned a Vozenilek punt 46 yards to the Virginia 29, and Pitt got into the end zone three plays later on a 6-yard TD pass from Voytikl to J.P. Holtz with 1:27 to go that made it 24-19 Virginia.
The ensuing onside kick attempt failed to go 10 yards, and finally the game was over.
Virginia outgained Pitt 346-311 for the game, but had just 112 yards total offense in the second half, and never put together a serious scoring threat in the final 30 minutes.
Johns was a pedestrian 9-for-16 passing for 93 yards and one touchdown with one pass intercepted. kevin parks had a career night on the ground, running for 169 yards on 29 carries with the second-quarter touchdown.
The effort from Parks keyed an impressive night for the UVA running attack, which gained 225 yards all told.
Voytik was 16-for-30 passing for Pitt with 195 yards passing and two touchdowns and the pick-six against him. Conner ran for 83 yards on 21 carries.
The Virginia D had a solid night overall against the potent Pitt running attack, which had come into the game averaging nearly 270 yards per game on the ground, but gained just 116 yards on 36 attempts Saturday night.
UVA has a bye week upcoming. The next game for the ‘Hoos is at defending Coastal Division champ Duke on Oct. 18.