Behind 13-10 early in the fourth quarter, Marino got his troops down to the Georgia 22 before being intercepted on the goal line by Cornerback Ronnie Harris. "I can't believe it," screamed Offensive Coordinator Joe Moore up in the coaching booth. "We're killing them but we're losing." Whereupon Walker fumbled the ball and Pitt's Michael Woods recovered. Four plays later—forgetting about that recent interception—Marino zinged home a six-yard pass to John Brown for the first of Brown's two crucial scores. To its competitive credit, Georgia came right back to regain a 20-17 lead when Quarterback Buck Belue completed a six-yard pass to Kay.
Then came the hysteria. With 3:46 to go, Pitt was backed up to its own 20. The Panthers made steady progress but finally seemed stymied with a fourth-and-four on the Georgia 46. However, Marino coolly ran a quarterback draw for eight yards. Moments later, Fullback Wayne DiBartola caught a Marino pass—and fumbled. But Wide Receiver Dwight Collins happened to be in the neighborhood, and he jumped on the loose ball. Again it was fourth down—fourth-and-five—with 42 seconds left and the ball on the Georgia 33.
Upstairs, Quarterback Coach Joe Daniels pondered the possibilities and decided on 69X, a pass play in which the two backs would cross and the three wide receivers would run streaks, then free-lance for position. However, in the case of a Georgia blitz, the two backs would stay back and block. Surprisingly, the blitz came, despite Dooley's earlier observation that "if you blitz Marino, he'll burn you." Marino put the torch to Georgia, all right, dropping back 13 yards, spotting Brown and firing a strike to him as he crossed the goal line. Brown had given a little outside fake to Defensive Back Steve Kelly, which Kelly bought, and that gave Brown the crucial step he needed to get clear. As he scored, Brown remembers thinking, "Hey, do you know what you just did?"
Belue had one play left, a rainbow pass that had most of the Pitt defensive backfield at its end, and it was intercepted. With that, the Panthers rushed into their dressing room, sang a few rowdy choruses of I Don't Give a Damn About the Whole State of Georgia, saw a table collapse under the weight of only five football players plus Sherrill, and immediately set their sights on next season.
Why not? The young Panthers think they may be preseason picks for the national championship and that Marino will be one of the hard-knocking candidates for the Heisman. To this end, senior Linebacker Sal Sunseri, the heart and soul of the Pitt defense, told him a few days earlier in New Orleans, "Danny, this game is so important because you can either get a step ahead of Walker for the Heisman—or a step behind." Step to the front of the line, Dan.