Phillips broke the school record for career receiving yardage when he hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Jackson with 6:23 remaining. The touchdown gave the Hokies (8-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 20-14 lead, and they held on to snap a two-game losing streak.
“The way it finished is indicative of who our players are and what they’re about,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “They refused to let themselves down and found a way to get it done.”
Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5) used a 74-yard pass play from Kenny Pickett to Jester Weah on its final drive to get to the Virginia Tech 1 with less than 30 seconds to go. But Pitt’s four attempts to get into the end zone failed, with the Hokies’ Khalil Ladler tackling Panthers tailback Darrin Hall for a 3-yard loss on the game’s final play.
Jackson completed just 17 of 37 passes for 218 yards, eight of the passes going to Phillips. Phillips now has 2,981 career receiving yards.
Pickett, who replaced starter Ben DiNucci, completed 15 of 23 passes for 242 yards and a costly interception, which led to Virginia Tech’s game-winning score.
The Hokies managed just 375 yards of offense, but their defense held the Panthers to 366 yards — just 55 rushing — and a 2-for-12 showing on third down. Greg Stroman had the interception that led to the game-winning score and broke up a third-down pass in the end zone on Pittsburgh’s final drive. The pick was Stroman’s fourth of the season.