It took Pitt longer to get rolling. But midway in the first quarter, Gordon Jones, a split end who also runs back punts, gathered one in at his 36, sped to his left, picked up a wall of blockers down the sideline and raced 43 yards to the State 21. Five plays later Cavanaugh dived over for the score.
After a Penn State punt, Pitt was back knocking on the door. Six plays put them at the Lion nine. Cavanaugh dropped back behind excellent protection and fired—right into the hands of Penn State Linebacker Ron Hostetler in the end zone. End of threat.
Following another Bahr field goal early in the second quarter and another Panther drive that was killed by an interception on the one, it was Penn State's turn to do a number with a punt. Usually Cefalo goes back as a single safety to return punts. And usually that is more than enough; he leads the nation with a 13.7 average. For Pitt, though. Paterno and his aides had decided something extra was demanded.
With Pitt punting from its 17, Defensive Back Mike Guman was back deep, along with Cefalo. Cefalo hauled in the punt at midfield, raced to his right and handed off to Guman, who as a tailback led the team in scoring last season. Guman twisted and jerked down the left sideline and went on to score to put State ahead 12-7.
Penn State fattened its lead midway through the last quarter on Bahr's third field goal, this one from 20 yards out. And when Hostetler again intercepted Cavanaugh in the end zone with but 1:47 to play, Pitt's future seemed as bleak as the slaty sky.
But the Panthers were not dead. Using their time-outs and a stout defense, they forced Penn State to punt. Starting at his 48, Cavanaugh wasted no time putting the ball in the air. He hit Randy Reutershan for 13 yards; then Flanker Willie Taylor for 22. An incomplete pass killed the clock with 16 seconds to play. This time Cavanaugh was not stopped by Hostetler. Dropping back, he connected with Jones for the touchdown.
That made it 15-13 with 12 seconds on the clock. Knowing only that Pitt was going for two, Penn State set up in one of its standard defenses, "It was no time to gamble and overload," Paterno said later. "We wanted to be everywhere, ready for everything."
In the huddle Cavanaugh called the veer option to the left, which gives him four options: give off to Elliott Walker diving over guard, pitch to his trailing back, pass or run.
Seeing that the Lion linebackers were playing soft and rolling with the option, Cavanaugh stuck the ball inside to Walker, who took one step left and dived. On the line Penn State Tackle Matt Millen saw Guard Jim Buoy shove his head to the outside, read the key and wrapped up Walker a step short of the goal.
Millen looked down at Walker. "Nice game," was all he could think to say.