Thanks to a late-game rally in front of a hostile crowd, the Panthers made a strong case they’ve returned to prominence.
Lewis rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown to move up in the record book and Dan Hutchins kicked a 33-yard field goal with 52 seconds left, giving 17th-ranked Pitt a 19-17 victory over North Carolina on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Winning 10 games for the first time since the Marino era in 1981, Pitt (10-3) overcame a disappointing loss to Cincinnati three weeks ago that cost it a spot in a BCS bowl.
"It’s back," Lewis said of Pitt football, moments after he was voted bowl MVP. "We’re not satisfied with just 10 wins. We want to get more next year."
The last win in 2009 required a remarkable 17-play drive that lasted nearly 9 minutes, included a key fourth-down conversion, a costly penalty against North Carolina and 13 runs by the dynamic Lewis.
Eclipsing Dorsett’s freshman rushing record of 1,686 yards in the first quarter, Lewis also moved past Craig Heyward into second on the school’s single-season list with 1,799 yards. Dorsett rushed for 2,150 yards in 1976 when he won the Heisman Trophy and Pitt won its last national title.
"It’s tough to describe what Dion has accomplished," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He’s special."
I am so happy for the University of Pittsburgh. The Panther defense really played a tough game.
My father always reminds me that we were at Pitt Stadium and watched Tony Dorsett run for 303 yards against Notre Dame. Dad tells me I was in the 8th grade, and told him during the game, "I think I’d like to go to Notre Dame." It must have been the band, since the football team lost. Years later, head coach Gerry Faust and I arrived on campus. I played in the band. Faust should have. Thanks to Faust, we didn’t have to play the Victory Clog or the Victory March much during football games. We had more success at basketball and hockey games.
Right. This is about Pitt, right?
Way to go, Panthers! And hats off to Dave Wannstedt. I miss you in Chicago, but it’s good to see fellow guy from Baldwin do so well. Congratulations, coach!