With only 3:31 to
play on Saturday, the Cougars had the Trojans down 17-10 and 91 yards away from
a touchdown. But Marinovich directed a scoring drive in which he completed 10
of 16 passes, including two on fourth down, into the teeth of a strong wind and
a fierce pass rush. Said USC receiver John Jackson afterward, "I was
surprised how poised he was in the huddle. He wasn't shy in that
And he wasn't
finished. When Trojan coach Larry Smith decided to go for two points and the
win instead of settling for a tie, Marinovich floated a perfect pass to flanker
Gary Wellman, who was standing in the back of the end zone. "It's nothing
new to sit in there and take some hits," said Marinovich, "but I've
never, never come back like that."
continues to improve, the Trojans, whose talented defense sacked Cougar
quarterback Aaron Garcia six times and held State to only 14 yards rushing,
should be on their way to a third straight Rose Bowl.
A MATTER OF
If the scoreboard
said the game ended in a 31-31 tie, why did it feel like a Pittsburgh victory?
Maybe because the underdog Panthers were playing at West Virginia's Mountaineer
Field and had spotted their hosts a 31-9 fourth-quarter lead. "I'm just
sick to my stomach," said West Virginia fullback Rico Tyler, while Pitt
linebacker Ricardo McDonald called the game "a great victory."
quarterback Major Harris completed 12 of 23 passes for 250 yards and four
touchdowns, but all he could do at the end was watch helplessly as Pitt roared
back behind quarterback Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt finished with 26 completions in
50 attempts for 366 yards, despite playing catch with West Virginia's
defenders, whose four interceptions were about half the number they should have
beat—uh, tied—themselves with some mistakes in the final moments. The first
came when West Virginia's Preston Waters was called for roughing the kicker on
Ed Frazier's 29-yard field goal attempt. The Panthers took the penalty and a
first down at the Mountaineer six, and running back Curvin Richards scored on
the next play. Frazier's kick made the score 31-28.
On the next
series, West Virginia had a first down nullified by a penalty and had to give
up the ball with 49 seconds to go. Van Pelt completed two passes to get Pitt to
the West Virginia 25, and Frazier kicked the game-winning—uh, tying—field goal
with no time on the clock.
The outcome did
not please Mountaineer coach Don Nehlen. "We're not jumping up and down,
swinging from the rafters," he said. Obviously, he was fit to be...well,