In a close game that comes down to the last few plays, you always have several plays to choose from for The Turning Point of the contest. Things were no different for Pitt's big win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Part of me wanted to select Justin Thomas never being the same after getting nicked up a little bit in the second half. I also felt the Georgia Tech offense's decision to try and start throwing the ball (when their ground game was chewing up massive amounts of yards) deep in their own territory turned things slightly. However, we might as well go to the very end and look at Pat Narduzzi's late game decisions that gave Pitt a 31-28 win over Georgia Tech.
Pitt took over with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter of a tie game. On that drive, Narduzzi and his staff faced three fourth downs while chewing up seven minutes of the remaining time. Each time, Narduzzi made what turned out to be the right call. With the Georgia Tech offense still a big threat to score at any moment and needing very little time, the first year head coach went for it on fourth and one, fourth and two, and finally a gutsy call to give a kicker a chance on a long field goal.
The last one came with a little over a minute left. The Panthers were faced with a decision to make after only reaching the 38-yard line of the Yellow Jackets. They could pin Georgia Tech deep and have a great shot to force overtime or they could risk it all and let Chris Blewitt try for the lead. A miss and the Tech offense would be in great shape to end the game themselves.
It's no secret that Blewitt has had his ups and downs with Pitt. It's always been apparent that he has a tremendous leg and he's generally been solid for the Panthers. However, when he misses, due to his last name, he becomes Twitter fodder for every unoriginal hack. Unfortunately, in his first two seasons, we've seen that a few times.
With a career-long 56-yarder an option and a huge game on the line, Narduzzi made the call and let Blewitt take a swing. I'm pretty sure every Pitt fan watching gave every ounce of body language they could to force the kick between the uprights. In the end, all you needed was the strength in Blewitt's right leg. The ball started out to the right and slowly made its way to the left, sneaking into the bottom right corner of the upright. Narduzzi's faith in Blewitt paid off and now the Panthers sit at 5-1 with one more road game left before ending the season with a nice stretch at Heinz Field. The guts of the last fourth down call could have backfired and make no mistake, he would have been second guessed throughout the upcoming week.
Fortunately, he won't since Blewitt made sure of that.