Elliott Walker is one of the first to say there will never be another Tony Dorsett, but after Walker had finished his imitation of his former teammate and last year's Heisman Trophy winner today he left Navy mumbling. Tony who?
Walker juked and jetted his way to 169 yards and two touchdowns in leading Pitt to a 34-17 victory over the overmatched Mids before 45.397 at Pitt Stadium.
And just like Dorsett, the man Walker blocked for last year, Walker looked a threat to go all of the way every time he touched the football.
"For three seasons I paid my dues blocking for Tony," Walker said. "This year belongs to me."
Walker's weight is down 20 pounds to 187 from last year and his runnings mate, sophomore Fred Jacobs, weights only 170, giving the Panthers one of the lightest set of running backs around.
Jacobs complemented Walker today with 109 yards and a touchdown, but he fumbled the ball away twice.
Pitt quarterback Matt CavanaughM playing with a special foam-rubber cast to protect his broken left wrist, completed nine of 12 passes for 179 yards as Pitt rolled up 532 yards.
Navy gaind 312 yards, thanks in large part to Joe Gattuso's 129 yards rushing, but the Mids were never really in the game.
As coach George Walsh put it. "They (the Panthers) seemed to be running downhill on us all of the time. We missed some tackles, but we didn't even touch them sometimes."
Pitt went 74 yards in five plays on its first possession with Jacobs scoring on a 13-yard run. Then the Panthers went 50 yards in seven plays on their second possession, Walker scoring from the one, to take a 14-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
The best chance Navy had to get back into it was early in the final quarter.
A 25-yard Walker run and a 31-yard field goal by Pitt's Mark Shubert countered by a 22-yard Bob Leszezynski to John Kurowski touchdown pass and a two-yard touchdown run by Leszezynski resulted in a 25-14 Pitt advantage.
Leszezynski took the Mids on an 18-play, 66-yard drive which consumed 8:13, spanning the third and fourth quarters, but all the Mids could get for that effort was a 21-yard field goal by Bob Tata.
That got Navy up to 24-17 with 12 minutes remaining.
Pitt responded with a 19-yard field goal by Shubert with 8:14 left to play.
Navy couldn't move on its next possession and had to punt. It took Cavanaugh two plays to get the 50 yards and the game's final score. On first down he hit split erd Gordon Jones for 34 yards. Then Cavanaugh pitched the ball to freshman Rooster Jones, who high-stepped 16 yards to the end zone.
Gordon Jones' catch was incredible, another example of why many consider him the best receiver in college football. For the day, he had six catches for 142 yards.
Jones had beaten double coverage by Navy and was alone with safety Mike Galpin down the left sideline. Cavanaugh hung the ball to the outside. Jones momentarily lost it, but turned at the last second and, as no dove backward, reached out and snared the ball onehanded.
Galpin, who had been in good defensive position, could do no more than help Jones up after the play and tell him, "Nice catch."
Pitt improved its record to 4-1.1. Navy fell to 3-3.
Cavanaugh, who suffered a broken left wrist against Notre Dame six weeks ago, returned last week in a 17-17 tie with Flordia. He fumbled the ball six times against the Gators, mainly because the cast he was wearing came over his palm, making it difficult for him to grasp the football.He wore a new open-plamed cast today and said he had no trouble at all.
"We had a perfect example of a ballanced attack," Cavanaugh said. "We mixed it up well and threw a lot of play action."
Sherrill had special praise for Walker.
"Elliott Walker today is a lot better player than he has ever been," Sherill said. "He is seeing everything better. He's thinking while he's running."
Pitt ran basically from the I-formation last year with Walker in the fullback position in front of Dorsett. Under Sherill, it is running from the veer, so Pitt doesn't really need a fullback type runner.
That's fine with Walker. He would rather run than block, anytime.