Pitt crushes Oregon State 38-13 in Insight Bowl

Thursday's victory in Phoenix marked the first time the Panthers have won back-to-back bowl games since the 1980-81 seasons.

The Panthers won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1980-81 seasons when they defeated Oregon State at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. The Panthers were led by an outstanding defensive effort and strong running game. Brandon Miree rushed for 113 yards while the defense held the Beavers' star running back to just 34 yards on 19 carries. Pitt had their best special teams performance of the season and they played a big part in securing the victory.

Shawn Robinson returned Pitt's first punt return for a TD in the team's bowl history. His 66-yard punt return opened up the lead and Pitt rolled on from there. Torrie Cox also played great on special teams by downing two excellent Andy Lee punts inside the five-yard line. True freshman David Abdul got into the act also with a 45-yard field goal just before halftime that gave Pitt the momentum for the 2nd half.

True freshman Larry Fitzgerald had another incredible performance. His diving 40-yard TD catch on Pitt's first drive will be shown on highlight films for years to come. Rod Rutherford played a strong game, making several nice sideline passes when we needed to move the sticks. He used all his weapons well as Fitzgerald, Slade, Miree and Furman all had at least two catches. Rod also eliminated the turnovers that hurt him a several times this season.

Gerald Hayes and Claude Harriott led the defense. They made several stops of the Beavers' star running back, Steven Jackson, behind the line of scrimmage. The entire defensive line played what was probably their best game of the season. Guzek, Stephens, Crochunis, and Harriott dominated from start to finish. Several backups had strong games also. Thomas Smith and Jake Holthaus also had solid performances. Redshirt freshman Tez Morris continued his outstanding play at free safety. His 37-yard INT return was a crucial play in the game.

The Panthers finished 9-4 on the season for the most wins since 1982. The four losses that they had were by a combined 24 points. The 38 points that they scored against Oregon State were the most points scored in a bowl game in program history. This was the first time Pitt has won back-to-back bowl games since they defeated South Carolina and Georgia in the Gator and Sugar Bowls back in the 1980-81 seasons.

The Insight Bowl victory was played before 40,533 fans and a national ESPN television audience. Pitt will finish the season in the top 25 for the first time since the 1989 season. Pitt should be ranked in the preseason top 20 next season. They return 8 starters on offense and defense. The Panthers open the 2003 season Sept. 6 against Kent State at home.

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