Tue, 26 Sep 2023

West Virginia leans on defense to take care of Pitt

Field Level Media
17 Sep 2023, 14:55 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

West Virginia totaled 151 yards on the ground and saw its defense force three takeaways en route to a 17-6 victory over Pitt in the 106th edition of the Backyard Brawl on Saturday night in Morgantown, W.Va.

Despite the Mountaineers (2-1) losing starting quarterback Garrett Greene early on, backup Nicco Marchiol filled in adequately, completing 6 of 9 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore running back CJ Donaldson racked up 102 yards rushing on 18 attempts and had a 1-yard touchdown plunge that gave West Virginia a 14-6 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Donaldson came up injured early in the fourth and did not return.

Jaylen Anderson was also effective on the ground, going for 62 yards on 19 touches.

The Mountaineers also created problems for a pedestrian Pitt offense led by quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who once again struggled to find any rhythm, completing just 8 of 20 passes for 81 yards and three interceptions.

West Virginia turned two of those interceptions into 10 points, which was more than enough to overcome its rival and take vengeance for a 38-31 defeat that ended with an M.J. Devonshire pick-six with three minutes to go at Pitt last season.

The Panthers were held to just 73 yards of total offense in a second half where the Mountaineers outscored them 10-0.

Pitt settled for two short field goals in the first half -- when it did threaten in the red zone -- the last being a 36-yarder by Ben Sauls that cut West Virginia's lead to 7-6 with just nine seconds to go before halftime.

But a 13-play, 46-yard drive that ate up 7:48 of clock orchestrated by Marchiol that ended with Donaldson's touchdown gave West Virginia a comfortable eight-point cushion that it never found itself in jeopardy of losing.

Pitt (1-2) hosts No. 20 North Carolina next Saturday night. West Virginia hosts Texas Tech next Saturday afternoon.

--Field Level Media

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