CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Pittsburgh got off to an exceedingly quick start Saturday at Virginia, returning passes by Brennan Armstrong on the first two plays from scrimmage for touchdowns.
“That’s how you start fast on defense,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said. He added that he’s seen games start with an interception return for a touchdown, but had never two pick-sixes in a row, and credited “great, great plays by both those guys.”
M.J. Devonshire did the trick first, jumping in front of a pass near the Panthers’ sideline and scampering easily 29 yards for the score at the 14:55 mark.
“It was fun getting out there to ball out with my teammates,’ Devonshire said. ‘My teammate Calijah (Kancey) got on me about going out there and doing my job last week so I had to make up for that. I told him I got him, so I had to show him that I did have him.”
After a second touchback, Armstrong tried throwing deeper, also near the Pitt sideline, and Marquis Williams jumped in front of that one and took it 39 yards for a touchdown.
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“It was a dream come true,” Williams said of the fast start.
After 16 seconds, the Panthers led 14-0 and Virginia fans were booing.
Anticipating a lot of blitzing from Pittsburgh, the Virginia coaches had tried to adjust.
“(Brennan) was trying to get some things out of his hands, quick, early in the game, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said.
The Cavaliers’ third series started with a handoff from Armstrong to Mike Hollins, and sarcastic cheers erupted even though the play went for no gain.
The double pick-6 marked the first time Pittsburgh has returned two interceptions for a touchdown in a game since 2006 — also against the Cavaliers in a 38-13 victory.
Saturday was the first time Virginia has allowed two interception returns for a touchdown in the same game since 2015, when Boise State did it in a 56-14 rout.
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