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.
Congrats to the #ACCFootball Players of the Week!— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 7, 2019
Honorees are determined by a vote of a 15-member media panel.
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.