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Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17: Are these the same Panthers?

After two games in which Pitt looked borderline uncompetitive, the Panthers rebounded behind a solid defensive effort, dynamic rushing combo and quarterback Tino Sunseri to upset No. 13 Virginia Tech by a 35-17 score.

The game was never in doubt for the Panthers, who amassed 537 total yards and jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead. Ray Graham led the charge with two rushing touchdowns in the first half to complement Sunseri’s first touchdown pass of the day. Sunseri continued his progression as a passer, finishing with 283 yards and three touchdowns.

As a whole, this was the kind of effort that was expected of a Paul Chryst-coached offense. The Panthers rolled up 254 yards of rushing offense, led by freshman Rushel Shell’s game-high 153 yards. 

Perhaps the biggest story was Pitt’s defense, which held the Hokies and Logan Thomas in check. Virginia Tech’s only two touchdowns came via a long special teams play and a broken tackle that sprung Marcus Davis for an 85-yard score. Pitt’s front kept Thomas uncomfortable and forced three first half interceptions; however, it was more apparent than ever that the Hokies are inexperienced at skill positions and that Thomas will need help if Virginia Tech wants to contend in the ACC.

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