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West Virginia Falls 38-31 to Pitt in 2022 Renewal of the Backyard Brawl



West Virginia and No. 16 Pitt faced off in the 105th Backyard Brawl, the first in 11-years. The renewal of the historic rivalry set an attendance record for Pittsburgh sporting events with 70,622 people. It passed the previous record of 69,983 at the 2016 Pitt-Penn State game.

Neither team was able to move the ball much in the first half, as both of their nationally recognized defensive lines stopped any sort of momentum from developing. Pitt was able to score first on their second drive of the game on a field goal to go up 3-0. It was not a big hole for West Virginia, but the team lost corner back Charles Woods to a leg injury on the drive. He was replaced by James Madison transfer Wesley McCormick.

West Virginia responded by taking their first lead of the season on a 10-yard JT Daniels touchdown pass that was set-up by a 49-yard run by true freshman CJ Donaldson. Donaldson, who converted to running back from tight end this past off-season, had a great game individually. In addition to his big run he blocked a punt in the second-half and followed that up with a short touchdown run. He crossed the century mark in rushing yards after just six carries.

Prior to that touchdown run, Pitt got a touchdown of their own after a five yard carry by Rodney Hammond Jr. Hammond was Pitt’s top back on the night, but the West Virginia defense held the Pitt running game to only 76 yards. A West Virginia field goal made it 10-10 at the half while Donaldson’s heroics gave West Virginia a 17-10 lead.

A 64-yard pass from Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis to Jared Wayne that set Pitt up at the one-yard line. A few plays later they tied the score up with a touchdown run. Pitt then took the lead when Hammond, while carrying a WVU defender on his back, ran it in for his second touchdown of the game. At this point, Pitt led 24-17 and was on a two-touchdown run. The Daniels and Ford-Wheaton connection found the end-zone for the second time to end the 14-0 run by Pitt and tie the game up at 24-24.

West Virginia took the lead back after two big runs by Donaldson and Tony Mathis set up them up on the one-yard line. This time it was Daniels though who ran it in on the keeper. With 10:37 left in the football game, West Virginia led 31-24 and put up 180 rushing yards on Pitt’s highly touted defensive line. The defense followed that up by sacking Slovis twice on the ensuing drive and forcing a punt.

For the second time on the evening though, Pitt went on a 14-0 run to take a touchdown lead at 38-31. The first touchdown on a short pass to Isreal Abanikanda tied things up and it was almost immediately followed by a MJ Devonshire pick-six. The interception came after Ford-Wheaton tipped the ball. Drops was something the wide receivers had struggled with all night.

The game came down to a review at the very end. On fourth and very long Daniels threw a deep ball to Reese Smith that set West Virginia within the Pitt five-yard line. Ruled a catch on the field, it was overturned upon review.

West Virginia fell 38-31 and now looks to get into the win column against conference foe Kansas next week at home.

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