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 The 10 Greatest Touchdowns in Pitt History
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What makes for a great touchdown? Distance covered? Sheer drama? Incredible displays of athleticism or grit? The following list has all of that. In anticipation of the Panthers' 125th football season, we proudly present "The 10 Greatest Touchdowns in Pitt History." The list of contenders was lengthy, so much so that we actually have a tie for the No. 6 spot, resulting in 11 total TDs. We're certain you have your own opinions and we want to hear them. What touchdowns would make your Top 10 list? Share them with us on the Pitt Facebook page or @GoPittFootball on Twitter!

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#10 Oct. 17, 1970: "Who the Hell Called this Play?"

The first 30 minutes of Pitt's 1970 Homecoming game was a rout. Visiting West Virginia, coached by Bobby Bowden, rolled to a 35-8 halftime lead, prompting many Pitt Stadium patrons to head for the exits at intermission. Those who left missed the most amazing comeback in Pitt history and the game-clinching touchdown that ranks No. 10 on our list. Down 27 points, Pitt coach Carl DePasqua did not resort to a pass-happy strategy. He instead stuck to an up-the-gut running game that drained West Virginia's defense and cut the lead to 35-30 in the fourth quarter. With 8:32 left, Pitt began its final possession and ran the ball all the way to WVU's 4 where it faced third down. Quarterback Dave Havern received the play call from the sideline -- "58X" -- a pass. Said Havern: "I remember thinking, 'Who the hell called this play?' I dropped back and looked at Bill Pilconis who was wide open...He was so wide open I almost choked and threw it behind him but he made a great catch. Then the lights went out. I was nailed from behind." Bowden still calls this 36-35 loss to Pitt one of the most excruciating of his storied career.

#9 Sept. 16, 2000: "Pitt's 'Slash' Dashes Penn State"

In January of 1999, Rod Rutherford picked Pitt over Penn State. In September of 2000, Rutherford picked Penn State apart.

Rutherford is one of the most prolific passers in Pitt history, but he began his career playing a "Slash" role. As a redshirt freshman in 2000, he contributed at quarterback, receiver and kick returner. This diversity added a key wrinkle to Pitt's playbook when the Panthers met Penn State in Three Rivers Stadium. With Pitt holding a 3-0 lead early in the third quarter, Rutherford, lined up as a slot receiver, took a 12-yard pass, darted to the left sideline and cut it back for a sensational 62-yard score. The Lions could only grasp for air in trying to catch him. It would be the only TD in Pitt's 12-0 victory. Asked if Penn State was surprised by his versatility, Rutherford replied, "I think they knew what they were going to get. It's just that, how are you going to stop it?" They didn't. Rutherford also rushed for 32 yards on six carries and was responsible for the Panthers picking up six first downs. The attending media voted him the game's most outstanding player.

#8 Dec. 1, 2007: "13-9"

One yard. That's how long our next touchdown was. Never has such a short distance reverberated so far. When freshman quarterback Pat Bostick pushed into the end zone early in the third quarter to put Pitt up, 10-7, over heavily favored West Virginia, few would have guessed it would be the last score the Panthers would need to secure the greatest upset in school history. What the touchdown lacked in distance, it made up for in toughness. Bostick took a cheap shot under the facemask, losing his helmet, but still squeezed over the goal line. Pitt would add a field goal and give West Virginia a safety as time expired for the 13-9 final. The Mountaineers' BCS title game hopes extinguished by a bitter rival, WVU coach Rich Rodriguez stood in his postgame press conference and gave the most reluctant concession speech since Al Gore in 2000. "The whole thing was a nightmare," Rodriguez said. Outside the Pitt locker room, senior offensive tackle Mike McGlynn described it differently. "If we would have lost every game this season and won this game, my season is a success," McGlynn said. "They were going to try to get their team into the national championship. They tried. It didn't happen."

#7 Nov. 13, 1999: "Pitt Stadium's Final TD"

It was fitting, poetic even, that a Pittsburgh kid scored the final touchdown in Pitt Stadium history. Kevan Barlow helped close out the old coliseum in style, clinching the Panthers' 37-27 win over Notre Dame with a two-yard touchdown with 1:41 left. Just as important was Barlow's bulldozing run one play earlier that converted a 3rd-and-6. Nine of the 10 plays on Pitt's final drive - and 34 of the 44 yards covered - were rushes by the bruising back. "How about that?" Pitt coach Walt Harris said after the game. "Running it right down at the end to run the clock out and go in and score. Wow. That's big-time, hard-nosed, tough, we'll-bring-it-to-you football."

#6 (Tie) Sept. 27, 2003: "Fitz-tastic"

In his two electric seasons at Pitt, a steamy September afternoon in Texas may have been Larry Fitzgerald's most breathtaking performance. Fitzgerald had three touchdown catches, each of the spectacular variety, while rolling up 135 yards on seven catches in a 37-26 victory over host Texas A&M. His final touchdown against the Aggies makes our list: a 49-yard over-the-shoulder grab that perfectly showcased Fitzgerald's incredible body control and concentration. Picture a football version of Willie Mays. (See 0:30 mark of this Fitz highlight reel.) Doing color commentary for the game, Gary Danielson said of Fitzgerald, "He reminds me of Lynn Swann the way he reacts to the ball in the air. He's just beautiful. He never has to break stride." Texas A&M concurred. Aggies safety Jaxson Appel summed up Fitzgerald's performance this way: "He'll make a lot of money playing this game one day."

#6 (Tie) Nov. 14, 1987: "Pick-Six Lifts Pitt Past the Nits"

The 1987 Pitt-Penn State game was the football equivalent of a rock fight. Through 59 minutes, the two teams combined for just a single field goal -- Jeff Van Horne's 44-yarder that gave Pitt a 3-0 lead on its opening possession. The lack of scoring did not mean a lack of drama. Penn State twice had the ball deep in Pitt territory but was kept scoreless when the Panthers' Gary Richard and Jon Carter blocked field goals. The Nittany Lions had one more opportunity when they took possession at their own 26 with 1:13 left in the game. Reaching the Pitt 36, Penn State quarterback Matt Knizner faded back and fired to the left sideline. Pitt safety Billy Owens broke on the ball perfectly, intercepting the pass and sprinting 69 yards untouched for the game's clinching -- and only -- touchdown. "I overplayed the play and the quarterback never saw me," said Owens, who began to hold the ball up in the air as soon as he blazed past Knizner. "I celebrated a little early." The 10-0 victory was Pitt's first shutout in the Penn State series since 1955.

#5 Nov. 16, 2006: "Derek Springs Darrelle"

Perhaps no single play in Pitt history is comprised of more twists, turns and spins. Darrelle Revis' punt return touchdown against West Virginia in 2006 began as a botched trick play but -- following a devastating block and numerous eluded tackles -- ended up a 73-yard touchdown. Backtracking to field the punt on the bounce at the Pitt 27, Revis began running right and, for a moment, looked to throw across the field to Derek Kinder. Instead, Revis kept running at Kinder who, no longer a receiver, flattened two WVU defenders with one thunderous block. Revis tight roped the sideline, accelerated past midfield, then used two shifty moves to elude three would-be tacklers inside the West Virginia 25 and reach the end zone. The score put Pitt up 24-17 with 2:18 left in the half. The lead would be short lived as the Mountaineers ultimately pulled away. But the return earned national acclaim as "College Football's Best Play of 2006" and was an ESPY finalist.

#4 Nov. 8, 1958: "The Kaliden Keeper"

Pitt's rivalry with Notre Dame is filled with many epic plays and players, but no game in the longtime series had a better conclusion than the 1958 classic. One report described it as a "dramatic, last-ditch, hold-your-breath finish." The climactic play was made by Pitt's second-string quarterback, Bill Kaliden, who called his own number on fourth-and-goal at the Irish 5 with 11 seconds left and the Panthers trailing, 26-22. Every fan sitting inside Pitt Stadium expected a pass, but Kaliden kept the ball and sprinted wide to the right. Running out of real estate, he pointed to the corner flag when he saw teammate Jim Cunningham get a block on a Notre Dame linebacker. "Had Cunningham not got him," wrote Myron Cope for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Kaliden probably would have been stopped short of the goal line and been remembered for years after as the quarterback who did not have sense enough to pass." Kaliden squeezed over the goal line, just inside the out-of-bounds stripe, to give Pitt a 29-26 victory. A newspaper account reported the goal posts were torn down 10 seconds after the final whistle, "a stadium record."

#3 Jan. 1, 1977: "Superdome Celebration"

It is perhaps the most iconic image in Pitt football history. Matt Cavanaugh held aloft by Tony Dorsett on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline trumpeting "PITT IS IT!" The celebratory photo was snapped seconds after Cavanaugh scored Pitt's opening touchdown in the 1977 Sugar Bowl, a 27-3 rout of Georgia that capped an undefeated national championship season. The Pitt quarterback ran an option play to the left and then knifed into the end zone from six yards, putting the Panthers up, 7-0. Cavanaugh would throw for another TD and finished with 192 passing yards to earn Sugar Bowl MVP.

#2 Oct. 23, 1976: "Dorsett Becomes the NCAA's Career Rushing Leader"

The great ones always do things with flair and fanfare. Such was the case when Tony Dorsett became major-college football's all-time career rushing leader with a dramatic 32-yard touchdown run at Navy. The run pushed Dorsett's career total to 5,206 yards, surpassing the prior mark of 5,177 held by Ohio State's Archie Griffin. Before his Pitt playing days were done, Dorsett would crash the once-unthinkable 6,000-yard rushing milestone. Bill Hillgrove still calls this play the most cherished moment of his iconic broadcasting career. Said Hillgrove during a radio interview with Dorsett following the Navy game, "In my estimation, you are the greatest back to ever play the game." Dorsett replied, "Well, my stats prove it." So did countless thrilling runs like this one.

#1 Jan. 1, 1982: "Marino to Brown"

Fourth and 5. Forty-two seconds left. Pitt trails Georgia, 20-17, in the 1982 Sugar Bowl. Coach Jackie Sherrill calls a timeout to discuss field goal and - in the pre-overtime era - leaving the Superdome with a tie. But, as junior quarterback Dan Marino would say later, "If there is any time at all on the clock, then there is enough time for us to win." The end result is one of the most dramatic endings in college bowl game history. Two things about this play never cease to amaze: the perfect trajectory of Dan Marino's winning 33-yard TD pass and John Brown's phenomenal effort to hold onto the ball despite taking a vicious hit from the Georgia safety. As he landed in the end zone, Brown recalled thinking, "Hey, do you know what you just did?" Score the most legendary touchdown in Pitt history, that's what.


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