Pittsburgh runs over Notre Dame for final victory in Pitt Stadium
By BRIAN KESSLER
The Pittsburgh student section couldn't have summed it up any better.
"You can't stop us," they shouted as the Pittsburgh offense ran the ball at will during its final drive. Ironically, they were chanting at the Pittsburgh event staff, who was trying to keep them off the field.
Regardless, they hit it on the nose.
The Irish defense couldn't stop the Panthers.
Pittsburgh ran the ball on nine of its final 10 plays, converted three first downs and ran four minutes off the clock en route to a touchdown that sealed a 37-27 victory in the final game at Pitt Stadium.
"Everyone in the stadium knew they were going to run the ball," head coach Bob Davie said of the Pittsburgh drive. "It's third-and-6 and we're playing a run defense and they run the ball down our throat."
Facing a 10-point deficit with 1 minute, 41 seconds remaining, Notre Dame tried to stage another comeback, but Jarious Jackson's fourth-down pass to Bobby Brown fell incomplete and Pitt Stadium came down on the Irish, literally.
With nine seconds left Pittsburgh fans poured onto the field, despite the public address announcers repeated plea, "Stay off the field. The game is not over."
It was, however, over.
"I told our team to call it what it is. We got whipped," Davie said. "I'm just embarrassed that we didn't play better. I give Pittsburgh credit. They played hard and they deserved to win. It shouldn't have happened, but it did."
It happened for several reasons.
"We can't win headed in the direction we're headed," Davie said. "We can't win turning the ball over, making penalties and giving up big plays."
Pitt receivers Antonio Bryant and Latef Grim torched the Irish secondary for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
"They made plays and we didn't," safety Deke Cooper said. "It's as simple as that."
"Their receivers controlled the game," Davie said. "The bottom line is there were more opportunities there that they probably didn't take advantage of. We were probably fortunate it wasn't worse."
Davie tried to search for answers following the game.
"I think it's two things," he said. "First, it's the inability to cover. I think we've been exposed a little bit. The second thing is how much pressure do we truly get. If I had to say anything, I think people are pretty comfortable throwing the football on us."
Pitt backup quarterback John Turman seemed pretty comfortable. After losing his job earlier this season, Turman filled in for David Priestly with a 10-for-27 performance for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
"You can't play good enough defense to win when you give up big plays," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "It's the same thing that happened last week. There were times in there where we played well enough to win, but they made big plays against us.
"When you get in close games and you give up big plays, you're not going to win," Mattison continued. "We've got to get that corrected. We allowed them to get into the end zone too easily."
Panther tailback Kevan Barlow rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries and two scores.
Nick Goings finished with 66 yards on 15 rushes. Kicker Nick Lotz connected on three field goals.
Senior split end Brown had a career game for the Irish with 12 catches for 208. He also had a touchdown catch on an option pass from fellow receiver David Givens.
"They gave us some opportunities to make plays and I made them, but obviously not enough to win the game," Brown said.
Jackson finished with 317 yards on 22-for-37 passing, but the Irish running attack was anemic, gaining just 72 yards on 32 carries.
"They outplayed us," Jackson said. "I don't know if it comes down to talent or attitude. I don't know what it comes down to. They simply outplayed us."
All Sports Stories for Monday, November 15, 1999