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This Date in Panthers History - December 30, 1977

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A journey back to that other time Pitt played Clemson

Pittsburgh v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Let’s travel back to 1977...

Keith Jackson opens the broadcast talking about how unlucky Pitt has been this year. QB Matt Cavanaugh broke his wrist in the season opener against Notre Dame with Pitt ahead. They would go on to lose 19-9. A closely fought 15-13 loss to Penn State in a snowy Pitt stadium gave Pitt its only other loss this year. Clemson is making its first bowl appearance in 18 years. Jackson believes this will be a close and exciting game. I doubt it. Eleven thousand tickets were sold to Pitt fans for this game. By my calculation if all of these fans stay season ticket holders and have a few kids, Pitt should have no problem building a new on-campus stadium should they ever outgrow Pitt Stadium. Former Arkansas coach (and current AD) Frank Boyles is providing color commentary. It seems Pitt fans are a little disappointed by this year’s bowl trip.

Clemson’s starting running back did not make the trip to Jacksonville for disciplinary reasons. Jackson just told Broyles, “You’ve had some problems like that at Arkansas...what’s the circumstance now?” Keith Jackson with a late nominee for 1977 player hater of the year. It looks like Sherrill was a little busy before kickoff.

Clemson goes three and out after a peculiar call to run on third and ten. After a short punt, Pitt takes over and quickly strikes in four plays. A 39 yard pass from Cavanaugh to running back Elliott Walker gives Pitt an early 7-0 lead. After picking up a few first downs, Clemson stalls again. They’ll attempt a 57 yard field goal into the wind. The kick is up and he blew it. It’s way short. The score remains Pitt 7 Clemson 0. Pitt is outscoring opponents 101-9 in the first quarter this season, which is incredible. Pitt punts and pins Clemson at the one yard line. After blowing up a third down play, Broyles heaps praise on freshman Hugh Green, says he’s destined for greatness. I have to agree, he’ll undoubtedly be robbed of a Heisman at some point.

Pitt’s next drive stalls inside the red zone and they settle for three. After a Pitt penalty on the kickoff gives Clemson its best field position of the quarter, ACC POY Steve Fuller connects on a 46 yard pass play to Rick Weddington on first down. Another Pitt penalty and Clemson is in business. Jackson spends 30 seconds talking about how Fuller has only gotten two B’s in his first six semesters at school majoring in Industrial Management. Broyles then adds that Fuller has only thrown 4 picks all season, which is impressive until you remember that it’s 1977 and most college programs still don’t know what a forward pass is. I bet Fuller throws a pick on the next play and then his Logistics Management professor changes his grade to a B from last spring.

Interception! Dave DiCiccio picks off Fuller off a deflection. Pitt runs one play and the first quarter ends. Pitt strikes quickly again, highlighted by a 41 yard bomb from Cavanaugh to Gordon Jones. Walker’s second receiving touchdown of the day caps the drive.

Clemson gets on the board with a field goal, and Pitt fumbles the ensuing kickoff but recovers. On first down, Pitt fumbles again and Clemson gets it this time. Clemson is poised to make this a football g-AND JURY picks it off! Bob Jury running with the football up to the 27 yard line. Fuller had a man wide open in the end zone off the play fake and waited too long. This will probably not be the last time a Clemson quarterback wearing #4 throws a terrible interception in the red zone. Pitt can’t do anything and punts.

Jackson is telling a story about how the Clemson basketball team moved their non-conference game today to Jacksonville for the fans who had already made the trip down for the bowl game. Nobody bought tickets. Hugh Green blows up two plays in a row and Clemson settles for a long field goal, which they miss.

Pitt’s driving, Walker just went over 1000 yards for the season, and I’m thrilled for him. It’s great to see after he spent the last three years backing up Dorsett. He can play and I hope he gets a shot at the next level. I saw in the media guide this year that he has the same career yards per carry as Dorsett (though in far fewer carries). And Cavanaugh threw it right to the linebacker...it’s up in the air AND JONES comes down with it. Incredible! Cavanaugh is having a great day but he’s been bailed out by Jones three or four times this half. Jackson just said, “That son of a gun, Gordon Jones...” I’m thinking quite a few Clemson fans are saying something similar. Pitt’s drive stalls and Clemson runs out the remaining time on the first half clock. Pitt 17 Clemson 3.

Pitt drives down the field but Clemson finally capitalizes on a Cavanaugh mistake, intercepting the ball near the goal line. A few plays earlier Cavanaugh had completed another pass off a deflection. Clemson does nothing again. Fuller is not having a good day at all. He keeps missing badly on his deep balls. You have to give credit to the Clemson defense for keeping the Tigers in this game, because their offense is not helping at all. Jones makes another play and he’s just set another Pitt receiving record, most yards in a season with 741. He already owns the career receiving touchdown mark at 17. You have to wonder if those records will ever be broken. And make that 18! Jones is having one heck of a day. He’s up to eight catches and now one score.

And my signal just went out. Okay so what are everyone’s plans for New Years? Anybody get that Atari yet? It looks cool, but I like playing at the arcade more. Okay it’s back. It looks like Pitt scored again. It’s 34-3 with a few minutes left. Trocano is on mop-up duty now. Jackson says Cavanaugh finished the day with a Pitt and Gator Bowl record 387 passing yards besting Kim Hammond’s 362 yards in 1967 for Florida State against Penn State. It is a bittersweet moment any time something negative for Penn State is wiped from the record books.

Some takeaways from the game:

-We’ve seen it all season, but Cavanaugh is one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Pitt doesn’t go undefeated last year without him.

-Hugh Green is an absolute monster and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s an All American next year too.

-Pitt should be in good hands next year with Trocano. He nearly led a scoring drive at the end of the game but time ran out. Hopefully they’ll get that Marino kid to commit next year too. It would be a shame if we missed out on another local kid, especially someone from Oakland.

Hail to Pitt.