Top 5 crowds in Pittsburgh sports history

Traffic jams well before rush hour, tailgate parties in many of the North Shore parking lots, and record crowds inside Acrisure Stadium made the Backyard Brawl renewal extra special.

More so for the winning Pitt than for West Virginia, considering the Mountaineers led by seven in the fourth quarter on Thursday night.

It was the largest crowd ever at a sporting event in Pittsburgh.

Here’s a look at the five most-attended games in the city’s history.

1. Pit 38, West Virginia 31 — 70,622, Acrysure Stadium, Sept. 1, 2022

In one of the most dramatic finishes in Backyard Brawl history, Pitt scored two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes and 41 seconds with just 43 seconds on the game clock. There were six lead changes before Pitt stopped WVU with 22 seconds down for the Panthers to seal the win.

West Virginia ran for 190 yards, blocked a punt, and scored five sacks from pit quarterback Kedon Slovis, but cornerback MJ Devonshire returned a 56-yard interception to break the 31–31 tie. After that, I lost.

The game was the first between the Panthers and the Mountaineers since 2011.

2. Pitt 42, Pennsylvania 39 — 69,983, Heinz Field, Sept. 10, 2016

The match was the first in 16 years between the longtime rivals and seemed to set the tone for a pit program that had suffered so many disappointments before the arrival of coach Pat Narduzzi in 2015. .

“Nalduzzi is taking this team in a direction that hasn’t been seen in a while,” said tight end Skov Orndov, a graduate of Seton LaSalle. “We always look back at this game and tell you how we want it to feel after every season and every game.”

Running back James Connor rushed 22 times for 117 yards and had six offensive linemen, fullback George Aston and running back Cudley Olison by his side after the game. .

Wide receiver Quadley Henderson carried four 58-yard runs on offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s favorite jet sweep.

Ryan Lewis sealed the win for Pitt with an interception in the end zone with 75 seconds remaining.

3. Pit 24, Fordham 13 — 68,918, Pitt Stadium, October 29, 1938

On a warm, sunny Saturday, a crowd initially estimated at 75,000 climbed Cardiac Hill to see Pitt, then the number one team in the nation, face Fordham at Pitt Stadium. Pitt officials eventually revised attendance figures, but it was still the largest sporting event in Pittsburgh until the 2016 Penn State/Pitt Games.

Pitt and Fordham have played tied scoreless for the last three seasons at New York’s Polo Grounds, with Pitt not scoring his first touchdown until the fourth quarter. All-American running back Marshall Goldberg scored his two runs.

The win extended Pitt’s unbeaten streak to 22 games, but it was ended the following week with a 20–10 loss to Carnegie Tech.

The 1938 season was coach Jock Sutherland’s final season. According to author Sam Ciuro Jr.’s book Memories of Pit Stadium 1925-1999, he shockingly resigned at the end of the season after a dispute with Prime Minister John Bowman over the direction of the football programme.

Sutherland is the winningest coach in Pitt’s history (111-20-12).

4. Patriots 27, Steelers 24 — 68,574, Heinz Field, Dec. 17, 2017

The game will forever be haunted by the “did he or didn’t he?” question.

Steelers tight end Jesse James, from South Allegheny High School, caught a pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 34 seconds remaining. James held the ball over his line of goal when his knee touched the ground. ground.

Officials signaled a touchdown, but the replayist took several minutes to confirm and cancel the call. They determined that “Catch” did not “survive” James crashing to the ground.

Roethlisberger’s final pass was intercepted, and the Steelers were forced to settle for a ninth straight five-game loss to the Patriots.

“I thought we won the game,” said rookie wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. His 69-yard catch-and-run made a dramatic change in the final minute.

5. Penn State 51, Pitt 6 — 68,400, Heinz Field, September 8, 2018

The game was played in the rain and was the worst loss to Penn State in 50 years.

In the first half, Pitt freshman punter Kirk Christodroo bobbled the snap as a holder on an extra-point try, struggled to beat another on a field goal mistake, and scored a Penn State touchdown with 26 seconds remaining. The set punt snap failed. in the first half.

Then the Nittany Lions scored five touchdowns after halftime and Woodland Hills alum Myles Saunders ran for 118 yards on 16 carries.

“Obviously, we weren’t ready for them in any capacity,” Narduzzi said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can reach Jerry by email at [email protected] or on his Twitter. .

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