No. 24 Pittsburgh Defeats Oregon State, 38-13, In Insight Bowl
Dec 27, 2002
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) - On a chilly night in a baseball park, the Pittsburgh Panthersbecame the bullies of the Big East.
The 24th-ranked Panthers dominated the trenches and held Steven Jackson to aseason-low 34 yards on 19 carries in a 38-13 victory over Oregon State onThursday night in the Insight Bowl.
Pitt's victory at Bank One Ballpark came a few hours after Boston College's51-25 rout of Toledo in the Motor City Bowl, making the Big East 2-0 in bowlcompetition.
'I think people cannot ever refer to it as the Big Easy anymore,'Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said.
Pitt - a team that nearly beat No. 1 Miami - pulled away from a 10-10halftime tie by pushing the Beavers around on offense and defense in the secondhalf.
'We showed that we were the better conditioned team,' Panthers defensiveend Claude Harriott said.
Pittsburgh won nine games in a season for the first time in 20 years.
'It's a good feeling,' said Panthers quarterback Rod Rutherford, whopassed for a touchdown and ran for another. 'In the beginning of the season, Ihad a lot of doubters. I was just going out, not trying to be macho about it,that I can do whatever I want if I want to do it.'
Brandon Miree rushed for 113 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run, andwas selected the game's MVP.
'We knew they were a tough defense, No. 10 in the nation coming in,' Mireesaid. 'But we felt we were a physical football team. We've been physical withall the teams that we played this year. I think we opened some eyes around thecountry.'
Jackson, who had gained fewer than 100 yards in just three games all season,broke loose only once, a 60-yard gain that was called back by a holdingpenalty.
'They played very physical against us,' Oregon State coach Erickson said.'It did surprise me, because I thought we could run the football against mostpeople, and we couldn't tonight.'
Shawn Robinson became the first Pitt player to return a punt for a touchdownin the school's 22 bowl appearances.
'It was easy for me,' Robinson said of his first career punt return for aTD in his final collegiate game. 'My teammates did all the work.'
The Panthers (9-4) broke a 10-10 tie with a pair of TDs in the thirdquarter. Tez Morris' interception set up the go-ahead touchdown on Rutherford's1-yard run, then Robinson broke a pair of tackles en route to his 66-yard puntreturn to make it 24-10 with 3:26 to go in the third quarter.
'That was the turning point,' Harris said, 'that and the field goal atthe end of the half.'
Derek Anderson completed 21 of 44 passes for 318 yards for Oregon State(8-5). James Newson caught 10 for 165 yards for the Beavers, including aremarkable 65-yard touchdown play.
Rutherford was 13-for-26 for 183 yards. Larry Fitzgerald made a diving grabof Rutherford's 40-yard pass for the game's first touchdown.
After Fitzgerald's touchdown grab on Pitt's first possession, the Beaversscored in equally spectacular fashion.
Newson caught Anderson's pass near midfield and was hit by defenders TorrieCox and Brian Beinecke. Newson went down, but caught himself with his righthand and his knee never touched the ground.
The Oregon State receiver scampered to his feet and ran to the end zone on a65-yard scoring play to tie it at 7 with 9:52 to go in the first quarter.
'I didn't feel my knees touch the ground. The only thing that touched theground was my forearm,' Newson said, 'so I just got up and started running.'
The Beavers took a 10-7 lead on Kirk Yliniemi's Insight Bowl-record 50-yardfield goal, then Pittsburgh tied it at 10 on David Abdul's 45-yarder as thehalf ended.
Yliniemi also kicked a 34-yarder with 34 seconds left in the third quarter,his 15th consecutive made field goal to tie a school record.