Seven games into their best season in more than 30 years, No. 3 Virginia Tech still doesn't haven't a loss. That doesn't mean the Hokies don't have a weakness.
Virginia Tech rode its running game to a 20-point lead, then held on for a 30-17 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night even as David Priestley picked apart the Hokies for 407 yards passing.
Michael Vick ran 46 yards for the Hokies' first touchdown and hit Andre Davis on a 37-yarder for their second as Virginia Tech scored 30 points for the 10th consecutive game. Davis also blocked a punt that preceded Vick's scoring run, the first block this season by a team that has blocked 31 since 1990.
Andre Kendrick ran for 100 yards before halftime and finished with 162 and Shayne Graham kicked three field goals as the Hokies (7-0, 3-0 Big East) improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1967, when coach Frank Beamer was a player.
"Yes, we did give him kind of a beating," Beamer said of Priestley. "But he gave us a beating, too. We feel like there is a lot for us to look at and learn from and improve on the rest of the season."
Unlike their first six games, this one wasn't easy the Hokies hadn't won previously by fewer than 20 points mostly because the nation's No. 1 scoring defense often had no defense for Priestley's passing.
Priestley finished 28-of-46 in only his fourth college start before leaving with a mild concussion with 3@1/2 minutes left. Antonio Bryant made 13 catches for 215 yards and Latef Grim made 12 for 188 yards against a secondary that allowed only 719 yards in its first six games.
"We knew their defense wasn't what it was cracked up to be," said Bryant, a freshman. "I heard they had said some things about us. I slept with his (cornerback Ike Charlton's) picture like I sleep ith my girl friend's picture. Every time we caught one, I said, there's one, there's one."
Shyrone Stith's 9-yard scoring run made it 24-7 with 3:41 left in a first half that saw the Hokies reel off runs of 46, 34, 59 and 20 yards, helping open up the passing lanes for Vick, the multidimensional threat who finished 10-of-17 for 170 yards. Graham added a 32-yard field goal just before halftime and also hit from 46 and 52 yards.
"The key for us was getting outside, that's where the game was going to be won and that's where it was won," Kendrick said after the Hokies outrushed Pitt 295 yards to minus 12. "Every time I turned the corner, I felt I could run forever."
Beamer said, "It was a good game for us, we got a lead and we controlled the game."
Despite star defensive end Corey Moore's prediction the game wouldn't be close, Priestley made it competitive, finding Grim for 55 yards on the third play of the second half, leading to his 16-yard TD pass to Bryant that made it 27-14.
"We gave them too much cushion and I thought their receivers were excellent in running their routes," Beamer said. "I give that quarterback a lot of credit. There weren't many bad throws.
Priestley, an Ohio State transfer, later drove the Panthers to a first down at the Tech 1. But, in position to close within six points, the Panthers bogged down after Priestley was sacked for a six-yard loss as he tried to throw from the 1 on first down. They settled for Nick Lotz's 23-yard field goal and a 27-17 deficit.
"If we had scored there, it would have gotten very interesting," Pitt coach Walt Harris said.
The only second half scoring by the No. 1 scoring offense in Division I-A came on Graham's 52-yard field goal with 11:09 remaining.
"As much as I got sacked tonight, our line did a great job because those guys were flying in there," Priestley said.
It didn't help that Panthers, who also played No. 2 Penn State tough before losing 20-17, had no running game to go with Priestley's passing.
"We think this is a big win for us," Moore said. "This is a team that should have beaten Penn State."
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