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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Feature | Fans, officials and former players reflect on the history of the Backyard Brawl

Roc+the+Panther+amid+a+crowd+of+football+fans+at+the+game+against+the+Cincinnati+Bearcats+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Sept.+9%2C+2023.
Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer
Roc the Panther amid a crowd of football fans at the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Acrisure Stadium on Sept. 9, 2023.

With the Backyard Brawl returning with a bang last year, Panthers fans can only hope to see 

something similar this Saturday in Morgantown. New fans and players will get to experience the intense battles that the Backyard Brawl brings, leaving lasting memories for generations. This rivalry produced some awesome games and moments in the past that many students today couldn’t see. 

Last season, fans got to watch the triumphant return of this rivalry, which made a name for itself with the Panthers winning 38-31. The game saw the Panthers overcome a fourth quarter deficit with a game-winning pick-six by cornerback MJ Devonshire with 2:58 remaining. Last year’s matchup was the first since 2011, leading to massive amounts of excitement for the game.

Many fans on both sides couldn’t contain their excitement, breaking the record for a sporting event at Acrisure Stadium with an attendance of 70,622. West Virginia fans made sure to make it known that they were part of that reason. Delaney Boylan is a West Virginia graduate who experienced her first Brawl last year. Delaney made it a point to take the trip to Pittsburgh for the Brawl last year. 

“The best part of the Backyard Brawl was packing out that stadium the most it’s ever been,” Boylan said. “It was so loud, and I was excited to see how many of my fellow Mountaineers made the trip.”

As Saturday night approaches, the atmosphere will prove electric again, as it is expected to have a sold-out crowd at Mountaineer Field. Panther fans will have to wait and see if this game gets to produce another historic result.

The Backyard Brawl was first played in 1895 and featured 105 meetings. There isn’t a single person who remembers the result of all these games. Going through history, fans can find lopsided victories on both sides that are forgotten by most people. For others, these games are some of the best they’ve ever witnessed.

One of these happened in 2000 when the Panthers knocked off the Mountaineers in Pittsburgh 38-28. It saw the Panthers move to 7-4 and clinch their second bowl game in eleven years. It also saw running back Kevan Barlow become third in single-game rushing yards in Pitt history at the time. E.J. Borghetti, the communications director for the Pitt football team, has witnessed many of these iconic battles, including Barlow’s performance in 2000.

“This rivalry has so many classics that I really cannot pick just one game or one moment,” Borghetti said. “I will say, an underrated and perhaps forgotten performance from the Backyard Brawl was [Barlow’s] 272-yard, four-touchdown effort in the 2000 game.” 

Speaking about Barlow’s game from 2000 Borghetti said that it was one of the best rushing performances he’s ever seen.

“Until Israel Abanikanda last season, Kevan’s game against West Virginia was the greatest rushing performance I ever witnessed in person,” Borghetti said. “It was like every time he touched the ball, he was gone. When you talk about great Pitt backs, Kevan should be mentioned in that conversation.” 

Barlow’s performance was a great example of a game lost in the history books due to the awesome action this series produces. 

Of course, this series has more famous games though, like the 2007 Backyard Brawl — arguably the best game in Backyard Brawl history and the greatest upset in Panthers football due to the stakes and the outcome. The game saw the 4-7 Panthers march into Morgantown and knock off the No. 2 Mountaineers 13-9. This is a game that students today see only through highlights, but created the best memories ever for others. The starting quarterback for that Pitt team, Pat Bostick, remembers that night vividly.

“My favorite memory is the 2007 Backyard Brawl, which we won 13-9,” Bostick said. “I was a true freshman and starting at QB. We were a nondescript 4-7 football team headed into Morgantown as a 28.5-point underdog and pulled off the upset, keeping WVU out of the National Championship.” 

With the stakes high as ever for the Mountaineers, the stadium was rocking. 

“Before the game, I’ll never forget driving into the stadium and our bus getting pelted by beer cans and rocks. After the game, you could hear a pin drop, except in our locker room and on the bus ride back to Pittsburgh” said starting quarterback Pat Bostick.

The Backyard Brawl is one of the best rivalries in college football, and last year proved what fans missed out on for the past decade. The series runs through 2025 before taking a break. It then picks back up in 2029 for another four straight seasons. 

Today, Panther fans can only wish for some more classic Backyard Brawl games that will leave stories to tell for years.

About the Contributor
Mason Carter, Staff Writer