Tech’s defense, led by Jeremiah Attaochu and Euclid Cummings, strangled Pitt’s rushing game holding the Panthers to minus five yards on twenty one attempts on the night.
With the running game stymied, the Tech defense pressured Pitt’s passing game and ended up with five sacks on the night including one by Attaochu on Pitt’s first offensive series that set the tone for the evening.
Jeremiah Attaochu’s two sacks moved him to fourth on Tech’s list of career sack leaders with a total of twenty-five.
Pitt were able to keep it close, thanks to Panther quarterback, Tom Savage and the passing game. Savage went 25 of 37 for 233 yards. His primary target was true freshman, Tyler Boyd who ended up with 11 receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown on the night.
While Savage's passing was enough to keep the game close, Georgia Tech's defense was the more dominant force. To complement the great defensive effort, the Tech offense was steady. However, Pitt’s defense played well led by Todd Thomas with 12 tackles, nine unassisted and Aaron Donald who had eleven tackles all of which were unassisted.
Donald’s performance was such that Tech’s head coach Paul Johnson remarked “Ninety-seven [Aaron Donald] is one heck of a player. He created a lot of havoc in there.”
While the offense was steady the game’s outcome turned on two great offensive plays, one of which was a particularly gutsy call!
In the second quarter and faced with a fourth and five at midfield Tech punter, Sean Poole, faked the kick and rushed for 12 yards to keep the drive alive. Two plays later Robert Godhigh ran in for a touchdown from 35 yards out to put the yellow Jackets up 14-3.
The second great play came in the fourth quarter. With Tech leading 14-10 and the game’s outcome still in doubt, Georgia Tech’s offense came up with the biggest play of the night. Facing third and seventeen with about four minutes left in the game and after Georgia Tech had fumbled and recovered Vad Lee completed a 42-yard pass to DeAndre Smelter to keep a yellow Jacket drive alive. Three plays later, Godhigh scored his second touchdown of the night to effectively put the game out of reach at 21-10.
Head coach Paul Johnson summed the night’s work with “It was a tough football game. I was really proud of the effort our guys gave. I thought our defense played tremendous, especially in the first half…I’ve said all along if you can run the ball and stop the run you usually have a good chance of winning the game.”
Pitt’s coach Paul Chryst put his slant on the game, “Certainly give Georgia Tech credit. They made some big plays to win the game…we did some good things but the bottom line is, there are plays to be made when the game matters, and I don’t think we made enough. Tech certainly did. Give them credit. They’re a good football team.”
With the win Tech moved to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the ACC and became bowl eligible. Pitt dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. Up next for the Yellow Jackets is a Thursday night road trip to Clemson in two weeks while Pitt hosts Notre Dame next week.