PITTSBURGH — "There are a lot of things that made this game important," Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall said Saturday night after a 30-14 victory over host Pittsburgh.
"To overcome a deficit at halftime and to earn a victory in a really difficult place to play against and [against] opponent we hadn't beaten yet in conference play … there's a lot of things that made this game important.
"There wasn't anything easy about it."
What nobody seemed to notice is that Virginia, picked to win the ACC's Coastal Division this year, had just beaten the 2018 Coastal Division champion and a team that had handled the Cavaliers last year in Charlottesville 23-13.
"I was really pleased that there were no turnovers on our part," Mendenhall said. "We were relatively penalty free for a first game and I thought the game management was clean as well. Our offensive line clearly played better in the second half and I think that had a lot to do with our ability to win the game."
The defense wasn't too shabby, holding the Panthers scoreless in the second half.
There were a combined total of two turnovers in the game, both coming on passes by Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett that were intercepted by UVa linebacker Matt Gahm and safety Joey Blount.
"That's what happens when you're throwing the ball a little bit more," said Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, whose team attempted 41 passes, compared to 30 rushing attempts.
When the Panthers won in Charlottesville last year, they ran the ball 42 times.
"Pitt had us on our heels in the second quarter and were doing some things that were really difficult to stop," Mendenhall said. "I'm really proud of my coaches and so happy for my players.
"To trail on the road is not an easy thing to overcome. I saw resolve but I also saw a little bit of uncertainty as I came into halftime. To start the second half the way we did, that was monumental. The resolve and the maturity were two of things that will last with me the most."