The Pitt defense played lights out for the better part of three quarters during its 33-30 win over Duke on Saturday night, holding the opposition to three points until mistakes by the special teams and offense opened the door for a Duke comeback. That fact wasn’t lost on the members of the media who voted on the ACC Players of the Week, as the 15-person panel included Pitt safety Paris Ford and Pitt defensive lineman Patrick Jones II on its weekly honor roll, which was released Monday.
The Panthers were led by their defense on Saturday, and their defense was led by Ford, who had a game-high 12 tackles. He also came up with two interceptions, including Pitt’s first pick six since Nov. 26, 2016. The Pittsburgh native’s first interception came with 4:49 left in the first quarter on a pass by Duke quarterback Quentin Harris that was tipped by Dane Jackson. Ford would score on the 26-yard return. Coincidentally, prior to Saturday, Jackson had Pitt’s most recent pick six.
Ford followed up his pick six with a second interception just two plays later. Despite a 22-yard return, he would not score on the turnover, but Pitt would add three points to its total on the subsequent drive, going up 10-3 entirely on points made possible by Ford. The game was the first multi-interception game by a Pitt player since Sept. 15, 2012, when Jason Hendricks had two picks against Virginia Tech.
Equally impressive was Pitt’s defensive line, which was anchored by Jones. The redshirt junior had a total of six tackles on the night and was a disruptive force, as he came up with two sacks, two tackles for losses and a quarterback hurry. The sacks proved pivotal, as both forced fumbles that Pitt would recover. The first of the two fumble recoveries placed Pitt on Duke’s 7-yard line, and the ideal field position allowed the team to score and go up 26-3. The second stripped Duke of possession as with 25 seconds left in the game and allowed Pitt to secure a close victory.