PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- West Virginia continued a remarkable turnaround that could send it to the Gator Bowl.
Avon Cobourne set a single-season school rushing record as the 21st-ranked Mountaineers clinched second place in the Big East Conference with a 24-17 victory over Pittsburgh in the 95th renewal of the "Backyard Brawl."
Already West Virginia's all-time leading rusher, Cobourne ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to raise his season total to 1,563. He broke Amos Zereoue's previous school mark of 1,559 yards set in 1997.
West Virginia closed the regular season with a 9-3 record, including a 6-1 mark in the Big East, after going 3-8 last season and could be headed to the Gator Bowl to face North Carolina State.
For the second straight week, Pittsburgh (8-4, 5-2) had a chance to tie the contest in the final minute, reaching the West Virginia 11 with 50 seconds remaining. But the Panthers turned the ball over on downs after a three-yard loss on first down and three incompletions.
In last Thursday's 28-21 loss to top-ranked Miami, Rod Rutherford's fourth-down pass to the end zone was incomplete.
Cobourne gave the Mountaineers the lead for good, 17-10, with a spectacular two-yard TD run with 1:45 remaining in the first half. He appeared to be stopped at the line, but spun off several tacklers and twisted his way into the end zone.
Larry Fitzgerald had a pair of TD catches for Pittsburgh and set a single-season school freshman record with 11, but the Panthers could not overcome four turnovers.
Rutherford completed 17-of-30 passes for 252 yards with a pair of interceptions in the second quarter, while Brandon Miree rushed for 121 yards on 25 carries for the Panthers.
Pittsburgh tied the contest, 10-10, on David Abdul's 33-yard field goal with 10:01 remaining in the first half before the Panthers turned the ball over on their next three possessions.
Rasheed Marshall passed and ran for touchdowns for the Mountaineers and set up another score with a reception on a flea flicker.
Safety Angel Estrada turned back a Pittsburgh scoring opportunity by intercepting Rutherford inside the Mountaineers 25 late in the first half. It then took West Virginia only four plays to take the lead for good.
Marshall hit Phil Braxton for a 30-yard completion, then hauled in a 25-yard reception from backup quarterback Danny Embrick to give the Mountaineers a first-and-goal at the 5. Two players later, Cobourne scored to give the West Virginia a 17-10 lead.
The Panthers had another chance before intermission, but cornerback Brian King picked off Rutherford inside the West Virginia 5.
Pittsburgh continued to move the ball on its first possession of the second half, reaching the West Virginia 14. But on 2nd-and-6, Rutherford's pitch hit fullback Lousaka Polite on the helmet and linebacker Ben Collins recovered the fumble for West Virginia.
Marshall, who completed just 5-of-9 passes for 123 yards, gave the Mountaineers a 24-10 lead by connecting with Braxton for a 79-yard TD with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers closed to 24-17 on Rutherford's 25-yard TD strike to Fitzgerald 12 seconds into the final period. Rutherford also had a 32-yard TD reception in the first quarter.
The offensives dominated early as West Virginia grabbed a 10-7 lead on Marshall's 19-yard TD run on the final play of the first quarter.
The game attracted 66,731, the largest crowd to see a sporting event in the city of Pittsburgh in the modern era. Last season's AFC championship game drew 64,704 to Heinz Field.
The road team continues to dominate the series, winning 11 of the last 16 meetings. West Virginia cut Pittsburgh's lead to 58-34-3.