The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 86 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 86, so we're looking at one of the longest - and unfulfilled - plays in Pitt history.
There are a few notable "86's" in recent Pitt history; Tyler Palko's career rushing total for instance. Or the total number of PAT's made by Dan Hutchins.
But the most interesting "86" in Pitt history has to be Curtis Martin's long run against West Virginia in the 1993 Backyard Brawl. After the Mountaineers opened the scoring in the first quarter, Martin and the Johnny Majors-led Panthers stormed right back. And it was Martin who truly did the storming, taking a handoff from quarterback John Ryan 86 yards toward the WVU end zone.
But he never made it. Martin was tackled at the one-yard line, and feshman Billy West came in for his first career rushing touchdown, a one-yard jaunt that tied the game at 7-7.
West Virginia was heading into the home stretch of an 11-0 regular season that day, and a 14-14 score at the end of the first quarter became 28-14 at halftime and 42-21 in the Mountaineers' advantage by the end. Martin left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and finished with 94 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries (fullback Chad Dukes was Pitt's leading rusher that day with 109 yards on 10 carries).
The outcome of the game wouldn't have changed if Martin had gotten the extra yard on that play, although the end-of-year statistics would have:
Martin led Pitt in rushing and receptions that season, but he shared the high-mark for rushing touchdowns with West; both backs had seven scores each. As it is, Martin's long run counts as the fourth-longest running play in Pitt history and the longest play from scrimmage to not result in a touchdown (the play holds that same record at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown).
Pitt only won three games that season (one of which came the following Thursday night in an upset of Rutgers at Giants Stadium). But Martin's play stands out as one of the longest - and certainly the strangest - in Pitt history.
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