By JIMMY ROBERTSON
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Cam Phillips had 117 yards receiving and scored the game-winning touchdown, and Virginia Tech’s defense kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone on the final play to lift the Hokies to a 20-14 victory over the Panthers on Saturday.
Phillips broke the school record for career receiving yardage when he hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Jackson with 6:23 remaining. The touchdown gave the Hokies (8-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 20-14 lead, and they held on, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5) used a 74-yard pass play from Kenny Pickett to Jester Weah on its final drive to get to the Virginia Tech 1 with less than 30 seconds to go. But Pittsburgh’s four attempts to get into the end zone failed, with the Hokies’ Khalil Ladler tackling Panthers tailback Darrin Hall for a 3-yard loss on the game’s final play.
Jackson completed just 17 of 37 for 218 yards for the Hokies, with Phillips catching eight passes. He now has 2,981 career receiving yards.
Coming on in place of starter Ben DiNucci, Pickett completed 15 of 23 for 242 yards and one interception.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers pretty much saw their hopes of a bowl bid end with their second straight loss. Pickett, playing in just his third game this season, played well, but his interception was costly, as it led to Virginia Tech’s game-winning score.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies’ offense had struggled in losses to Miami and Georgia Tech and wasn’t much better against Pittsburgh, accumulating 375 yards. But Virginia Tech’s defense, led by Greg Stroman, made up for it, holding the Panthers to 366 yards and just 2 of 12 on third downs. Stroman not only intercepted his fourth pass of the season – one that led to the game-winning score – but he also broke up a third-down pass in the end zone on Pittsburgh’s final drive.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers conclude their regular season Friday with a home game against Coastal-Division champion Miami.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies finish their regular season Friday with a road game against in-state rival Virginia. Virginia Tech has won 13 straight against the Cavaliers.