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Qadree Ollison makes history in final game at Heinz Field

The senior running back set a record and personal bests in Pitt’s rout of Virginia Tech

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt running back Qadree Ollison had a day to remember in his team’s 52-22 rout of Virginia Tech on Saturday, as he ran for a career-high 235 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on just 16 carries. Much of that came on a single touchdown run in the fourth quarter from Pitt’s 3-yard line that went 97 yards, setting a record for the longest rushing play in program history.

During that play, quarterback Kenny Pickett handed the ball off to Ollison in Pitt’s end zone, and he burst through a hole on the right side of the line formed in part by fullback George Aston and offensive linemen Connor Dintino and Bryce Hargrove. Ollison was then pursued by Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley, who he trucked. That took out Khalil Ladler, the last defender in pursuit, freeing up Ollison to jog toward the end zone and flip in for the score.

In addition to solidifying Saturday’s matchup with Virginia Tech as the best game of Ollison’s collegiate career, the run had wider-ranging implications as well. Most notably, it boosted Ollison above 1,000 yards on the season for the second time in his career at Pitt, making him just the sixth player in program history to rush for multiple 1,000-yard seasons.

Ollison’s big run also served as the signature play in a monumental win for the program that saw the Panthers become bowl eligible after being forced to sit out bowl season in 2017. That rare miss ended a nine-year streak of bowl appearances for Pitt, but the program has bounced back and currently appears poised to play for more as the favorite to win the ACC Coastal.

After the game, Ollison took part in a school tradition by leading the Pitt band. He also invited the offensive linemen and fullback who blocked for him to join him at the podium during the postgame press conference, sharing the spotlight and credit for his performance with them.

“Nothing that I did or Darrin [Hall] did or anybody else did is possible without these guys,” Ollison said, gesturing to the linemen. “That’s what makes this sport so great, it’s the ultimate team sport. It’s 11 guys doing their job, and if one guy messes up, that’s the difference between a touchdown and a tackle for loss. So my hat goes off to these guys. I owe them everything.”

Now, thanks in large part to Ollison, Pitt controls its own destiny as the top team in the ACC Coastal with two conference games remaining on the schedule. It’s next challenge will be a 5-5 Wake Forest team that has gone 2-4 in conference. The two teams will square off in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this coming Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for noon ET.