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Pitt spotlight

  • SENIOR NIGHT: Pitt celebrated Senior Night while it was in the process of battling Miami for a piece of the Big East championship and the conference’s BCS berth.

    The game marked the final regular-season appearance for 21 Pitt seniors, among them major contributors such as William “Tutu” Ferguson, Claude Harriott, Corey Humphries, Dan LaCarte, Andy Lee, Brandon Miree, Lewis Moore, Matt Morgan, Lousaka Polite, Rod Rutherford, John Schall, Shawntae Spencer and Kris Wilson.

    Pitt’s seniors were introduced one by one prior to the balance of the Panthers’ squad emerging from the tunnel.

    Of course, Saturday marked the final regular-season appearance for the visitor’s, as well. And as it turned out, Miami’s senior class had a number of reasons to celebrate, including a 52-8 record since 1999 entering Saturday night’s game against Pitt; one national championship and three Big East titles while remaining in contention for a fourth heading into the Pitt game; a 32-3 Big East record prior to battling the Panthers; 3-1 in bowl games since 1999 and ranked in the nation’s top 20 every week of their careers, including all but four weeks in the top 10 since 2000.

  • DRAWING A CROWD: Among the interested observers in the press box last night were three representatives from the Orange Bowl, two from the Gator Bowl and one from the Continental Tire Bowl.

    Plenty of NFL scouts were also on hand, as press box sets were reserved for employees of the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.

    Bills director of football operations Tom Donahoe, who formerly had the same title with the Steelers, was among the scouts on hand.

  • MOMENTUM KILLER: Pitt’s Adam Graessle kicked off out of bounds following the Panthers’ first-quarter touchdown that opened the scoring, giving the Hurricanes possession at their 35-yard line. Graessle came in having produced touchbacks on 29 of his 67 kickoffs.

  • MOMENTUM BUILDER: Pitt’s Terrell Allen answered Miami’s game-tying touchdown in the first quarter with a 63-yard kickoff return to the Hurricanes’ 28-yard line, the longest kickoff return of the season for Allen and Pitt.

  • DRAWING FIRST BLOOD: The Panthers’ scored first on a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rod Rutherford to tight end Kris Wilson — a good sign for the home team, and not just because the play provided Pitt with a 7-0 lead. The Hurricanes came in with a record of 169-15 since 1983 when scoring first. One of those losses occurred this year against Tennessee.

  • PULLING THE PLUG: The scoreboards at Heinz Field went dark with 1:48 left in the second quarter, just prior to a third-and-12 snap for the Hurricanes from the Miami 33.

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