Sep 21, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Aaron Mathews (6) leads the PITT band in the alma mater after defeating the UCF Knights at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Georgia Tech wraps up regular season in showdown with Pitt

The Pitt Panthers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are both looking to get back on the winning side when they meet Thursday in Atlanta.

Pitt (5-5, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off a disappointing 52-17 loss to No. 4 Clemson in its last game on Nov. 28. Georgia Tech (3-6, 3-5 ACC) dropped a 23-13 road decision to NC State on Saturday.

Pitt leads the series 9-5, has won two straight and four of the last five contests. The Panthers won 20-10 win in Atlanta in 2019.

Georgia Tech was missing 10 players from its “above the line” depth chart against NC State and were left with just three defensive ends — two of them true freshmen — and four who could play safety or nickel. Freshman end Kyle Kennard took the opportunity to post the first sack of his career.

“The way coach (Geoff) Collins runs practice, all those guys get reps every day,” said Georgia Tech senior linebacker David Curry, who has had back-to-back games with double-digit tackles.

“I think they played pretty well. We have the ‘next-guy-up’ mentality and if you’re above the line, you’re expected to be able to play.”

It isn’t known how many of those players will be able to return for the Pitt game.

A bright spot for Georgia Tech was the emergence of wide receiver Adonicas Sanders, who caught seven passes for 105 yards — both career highs — and became the team’s first player with 100 receiving yards in a game since 2018 and the first wide receiver since Ricky Jeune in 2015.

Pitt was knocked out of the Clemson game early, as the Tigers scored 31 unanswered points in the first quarter. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw four interceptions, three in the first quarter, that led to touchdowns. It didn’t help that Pitt was missing three starting offensive linemen against the Tigers.

Pickett has been otherwise reliable. He has thrown for 2,212 yards and 12 touchdowns; four of his eight interceptions came in the last game. Vincent Davis is the team’s leading rusher with 385 yards and five touchdowns and Pickett has run for seven scores. The top receiver is Jordan Addison, who has 57 catches for 652 yards and four touchdowns.

The Pitt defense entered the game with the ACC’s third-best defense in yards allowed, but gave up 349 yards by halftime and surrendered 581.

“We didn’t tackle well,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We missed a lot on defense early.”

The Panthers are led by Rashad Weaver, a finalist for the Bednarik Award, who has 7 1/2 sacks, 14 1/2 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

Georgia Tech missed opportunities last week against NC State. After going 8-for-8 in red zone scoring the previous week against Duke, the Yellow Jackets were only 2-for-3 against the Wolfpack, both of them field goals after failing to punch it in from close range.

“We’ve got to finish in the red zone,” Collins said. “That will be a story we continue to work on and improve on.”

The Georgia Tech offense is led by quarterback Jeff Sims, who has thrown for 1,643 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for a team-leading 478 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan Mason has 311 yards and missed by one yard picking up his second straight 100-yard game.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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