Pittsburgh 53, Temple 52
Pittsburgh 53, Temple 52
Oct. 05, 1996
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Quarterback Matt Lytle, benched after a 72-0 loss to Ohio State two weeks before, led a three-touchdown Pitt comeback in the final 10 1/2 minutes as the Panthers shocked Temple 53-52 Saturday.
Coach Ron Dickerson, whose unsuccessful fourth-down gamble with 2:44 remaining may have cost Temple the game, announced afterward he would resign at the end of the season.
Lytle threw scoring passes of 14 and 4 yards to Mark Butler ahead of Billy West's decisive 6-yard scoring run with 58 seconds left after Temple had opened a seemingly safe 52-33 lead with 10:13 remaining.
It was the highest-scoring game for Temple since an 82-28 victory over Bucknell in 1966 and for Pitt since a 63-48 loss at West Virginia in 1965.
Pitt's remarkable comeback overshadowed perhaps the greatest individual effort in Temple history. Henry Burris, who was having a disappointing senior season, completed 25 of 41 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns. Temple outgained Pitt 612-473.
Burris hit Van Johnson on TD passes of 87, 30 and 12 yards and scored on runs of 17 and 7 yards.
With Temple (1-4, 0-1 Big East) desperately trying to preserve a 52-47 lead, Ramond Lee was stopped for no gain on a third-and-1 play. The Owls apparently planned to punt, but reserve quarterback Pat Bonner took the snap and was stopped inches short of a first down.
Lytle, 12-of-20 for 155 yards in barely half a quarter, then found Butler for 13 yards on third-and-10 and Jake Hoffart for 13 on fourth-and-9 to keep the game-winning drive going. West's run then won it.
The comeback was one of the few highlights of what has been a horrendous season for Pitt (2-4, 1-2), which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Tony Dorsett-led 1976 national championship team with a halftime tribute. Coach Johnny Majors' team was outscored 159-35 while losing three straight before Saturday and had lost 14 of its last 15 games, including a 29-27 loss to Temple last season.
Temple seemed well on its way to only its second Big East victory in 33 games _ both over Pitt _ after Curtis Anderson's fumbled punt led to Lee's 1-yard TD run that made it 52-33.
Lytle cut it to 52-41 with his 4-yard scoring pass to Butler with 7:55 remaining, and Pitt crept even closer at 52-47 on Lytle's 14-yarder to Butler with 4:39 remaining as Temple suddenly couldn't move the ball.
Pitt started a game of big plays _ there were 14 of 25 yards or longer _ as Hank Poteat returned the opening kickoff 53 yards and starting quarterback Pete Gonzalez hit Jake Hoffart on a 46-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker.
Burris found Johnson on a 12-yard TD pass only 1:13 later to tie it at 7-7 before Temple overcame Pitt leads of 17-14 and 24-21 for a 35-24 halftime lead. Burris figured in all but one Temple first-half touchdown _ Deadrake Epps' end-zone recovery of Nate Cochran's blocked punt _ while completing 17 of 22 passes for 286 yards before halftime.
Burris then found Johnson on scoring passes of 30 and 87 yards _ the second on a broken play _ to make it 45-27 Temple with 1:36 left in the third quarter.