This game was Marvelous Marvin Hagler versus Thomas the Hit Man Hearns in cleats, with both teams throwing heavy body shots at one another from the very outset of the game. Defense took a holiday this November night. The Backyard Brawl was more like a track meet as fans turned their heads like at a tennis match to try keep up with the teams racing up and down the field in the first half.
Pitt’s defense had no answer for West Virginia’s duo of quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton. White had 424 yards in total offense as he was 11-for-16 passing for 204 and two touchdowns as well as rushing for 220 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.
Slaton had 345 yards in total offense, rushing for 215 yards on 23 carries with six receptions for 130 yards. Slaton became the first player in West Virginia history to have over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game and scored four touchdowns, two rushing and two receiving.
Pitt’s offensive star was quarterback Tyler Palko who was 28 out of 37 passing for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
Midway through the second quarter, Mountaineer and Plum High School graduate Pat McAfee kicked one of the longest field goals in Heinz Field history, college or pro, converting from 51 yards away.
The play of the game and the ESPN College Football Play of the Year took place when Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown with just over two minutes to go before halftime to give Pitt a 24-17 lead. Revis’ return was made possible by a tremendous block by Derek Kinder that took out two Mountaineers on the play.
West Virginia answered right back, taking just over a minute to do so on a 3-play, 74-yard drive with Slaton scoring on a 67-yard pass play from White to tie the game up at 24 apiece.
With less than a minute remaining in the half, it was Pitt’s turn. The Panthers went 61 yards in four plays setting up a Conor Lee 39-yard field goal with three seconds left to take a 27-24 halftime lead.
Pitt had held West Virginia to 67 yards rushing in the first half. But on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, White went 64 yards for a touchdown and West Virginia was on top to stay. White would score again on the Mountaineers very next possession as well.
Pitt was shutout and outscored in the second half 21-0 as the Mountaineers took control, rushing for 371 of their 438 yards after halftime and holding the Panthers to only 30 total yards in the second half.
The two teams had combined for nearly 1,000 yards in total offense with West Virginia gaining 641 yards in total offense (437 yards on the ground) and Pitt with 341 yards passing but -1 yards rushing.
It all added up to a 45-27 victory for West Virginia and their fourth victory in the last five meetings with Pitt.