Pitt ‘D’ steps up

PITTSBURGH — Pitt stopped Virginia four times out of five chances on fourth down tries on Saturday. No fourth down stop was more important than when the Cavaliers were facing fourth down and goal from the one yard line with less than five minutes left. Virginia was trailing 31-14 at the time.

“Our kids weathered the storm today. We stopped the run. We did a great job stopping (Virginia) four times on fourth down,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “That’s big time football. I’m proud of what our defense did.”

The 3-5 Panthers were scrapping for a much-needed win. They stopped Virginia on third down and goal from the one yard line on the play beforehand as Panther linebacker Chase Pine stuffed Joe Reed for no gain.

If the Cavaliers would have capped the 79-yard drive with a touchdown, they would have gotten back into the game. Panther defensive lineman Shane Roy ended any suspense however, when he stuffed Jordan Ellis for no gain and sealed the win as the Panthers took over on downs.

“Shane Roy made that (fourth down) play,” Narduzzi said. “He’s been solid for us. He’s having a great year.”

Roy ended the game with one of the Panthers’ three sacks as well. He described how the fourth down play transpired.

“(The Cavaliers) moved their better guard over to my side so I had a feeling they are coming my way. I was just trying to get my pad level as low as I could and get in the gap and make the play,” Roy said. “I didn’t make the play alone for sure. I know there were a couple other guys there but when I got the stop I said to myself, ‘we got this.’ “

Defensive end Rashad Weaver was on the field for the play and helped with the stop.

“The O-line showed a heavy look, so we figured they were coming up the gut. Shane (Roy) and the D-tackles were supposed to get low and blow up the O-line and the D-ends were supposed to push the play down,” Weaver said. “When the running back got the ball, he had no place to go. That was the game right there.”

Roy also felt the play snuffed out any chance the Cavaliers had in coming back.

“I felt that (stop) sealed the deal and made an exclamation point on the day,” Roy said. “We came into this game with a good game plan and we were really well-prepared. I thought this game was a coming-out party for the D-line. We figured out what moves we thought would work against (Virginia) and we practiced that relentlessly this week. It turned out that it worked.”