Starting the game ranked last in FBS in red-zone efficiency with four scores in 11 red-zone possessions this season, Tech was 6-for-7 against the Panthers on Saturday night. That included Stewart’s 4-for-4 effort on placekicks (Stewart was elevated in the lineup ahead of Jude Kelley) and two touchdowns, one a 21-yard pass play from quarterback Jeff Sims to wide receiver E.J. Jenkins and the other an 18-yard touchdown run by Sims that put Tech ahead 26-14 with 1:25 left in the game.
Five days after being named interim head coach, Brent Key led the Jackets to a win as a 22-point underdog. Key, in fact, brought the game ball with him to the podium for the postgame news conference. It was awarded to him in the locker room by interim athletic director Frank Neville.
What we learned
Maybe the Jackets aren’t quite as bad as thought. After getting outscored 110-20 in their three losses to FBS opponents this season and committing a litany of mistakes while at times looking slow and not as tough as the opponent, it was difficult to conceive that this team could be competitive with a Top 25 opponent. But, at least for one night, Tech was the team that players and coaches asserted in the preseason it could be.
They said it
“It’s a game of body blows. Body blows add up.” – interim coach Brent Key on the team’s physical style on defense
“He knew that coach Collins being fired was a devastating time for us just with everything going on. And he came in and just kept our confidence up. Just in practice, we were a lot more detailed, just going in there and getting work done and he’s just been a genuine dude, keeping our confidence up, keeping our spirits high.” – quarterback Jeff Sims
Tech: The Jackets (2-3, 1-1 ACC) return home to play Duke at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in a Coastal Division matchup. The Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0) defeated Virginia 38-17 on Saturday in Durham, N.C.
Pitt: The Panthers (3-2, 0-1) will be at home against Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1) in another Coastal matchup. The Hokies lost 41-10 to North Carolina on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.