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July 11, 2013

Countdown to Labor Day: 53



The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 53 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.

Today's number is 53, so we're looking at the story of do-everything athlete Henry Ford .

A native of Homestead and a graduate of Schenley High, Ford played for several coaches at Pitt, but one thing was clear: whether he was playing for Tom Hamilton in 1951, Lowell P. "Red" Dawson in 1952, 1953 and the first three games of 1954, or Hamilton once again for the final six games of 1954, Ford was an exceptional talent.

In 1953, Ford became the first African-American starting quarterback in Pitt history, and one of few in college football overall at the time. Pitt went 3-5-1 that season, but Ford had some standout performances. Like Corny Salvaterra, who was Pitt's quarterback from 1954-56, Ford had more interceptions than touchdown passes (3 TD's, 7 picks), but he contributed in a number of ways for Dawson's run-heavy offense.

Plus, Ford was a standout defensive back, too, and in 1953 he tied Lou Cecconi's Pitt record for the most interceptions in a game when he made three picks against Penn State (that record has since been tied by Willie Marsh in 1978 and Shawntae Spencer in 2002). Ford led Pitt in both passing and interceptions that season.

Ford moved to halfback in 1954 and proceeded to lead Pitt in rushing before getting selected by the Cleveland Browns in the ninth round of the 1955 NFL Draft. He spent one year with the Browns before going to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he functioned primarily as a return specialist, although he did score two rushing touchdowns.


Previous entries in the Countdown

Countdown: 54 - A mid-century quarterback
Countdown: 55 - Pitt makes history
Countdown: 56 - Panthers in the Super Bowl
Countdown: 57 - A unique scoring title
Countdown: 58 - Another Dorsett record
Countdown: 59 - The rare 59-point game
Countdown: 60 - A record that won't be broken
Countdown: 61 - Pitt's longest-running rivalry
Countdown: 62 - The last touchdown against Penn State
Countdown: 63 - The No Bowl Panthers
Countdown: 64 - The most passes in a game
Countdown: 65 - The other 13-9
Countdown: 66 - A local star
Countdown: 67 - One-win seasons
Countdown: 68 - The most prolific receiving game
Countdown: 69 - One of the biggest plays in Pitt history
Countodwn: 70 - The origin of Pitt's nine championships
Countdown: 71 - A good player in a bad era
Countdown: 72 - An All-American who became a dentist
Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913







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