EL PASO, Tex.- Pittsburgh gave Kansas a painful lesson in how to run the football here today and posted an impressive 33-19 victory over the Jayhawks before a capacity crowd of over 30,000, the first sellout in the 41-year history of the game.
The Panthers beat down two early Jayhawk threats to surge to a 19-0 halftime lead on the running of quarterback Robert Haygood, fullback Elliott Walker and All-American tailback Tony Dorsett. And the Pitt defense seemed always equal to the challenge of the Kansas Wishbone offense when it counted.
Kansas' hopes of victory were badly weakened by penalties, too many errors, and poor tackling and defensive lapses that often let Panther backs drive for added yardage after it appeared they had been stopped.
Haygood, Walked and Dorsett all rushed for well over 100 yards each and it wasn't until the second half that Kansas really got into contention following a costly slump following its early thrusts.
Walker and Dorsett each scored two touchdowns for Pitt, and Kansas running star Laverne Smith scored on runs of 56 and 15 yards in the second half in a gallant effort to spark a Jayhawk rally. The final KU score came on a 38-yard scoring pass from substitute quarterback Scott McMichael to reserve halfback Skip Sharp.
Kansas made too many costly errors in the first half, to let the game get beyond reach. Adjustments at the half projected the Jayhawks back in to the battle after intermission, but the Panthers had far too much momentum.
The Jayhawk offense was badly hindered by the lack of a productive passing attack. Quarterback Nolan Cromwell either overthrew or couldn't locate receivers, and the only type of aerial threat came when McMichael, the passer, replaced Cromwell, the runner, in the dying moments. The McMichael-Sharp touchdown play came with 2:02 to go in the game.
It was KU's fourth loss in five bowl tries, the only victory coming in 1961 against Rice, 33-7, in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
Kansas went to the dressing room trailing 19-0 at the half following a close officiating call deep in Pitt territory, a long run by Walker, a short Pitt drive after KU interfered with a punt receiver and a Kansas fumble set up a Panther scoring punch just before intermission.
Kansas was plagued by penalties and ball-handling miscues, but Pitt also had penalty problems and might have led by a wider halftime margin but for infractions.
On its first possession following reception of the opening kickoff. Kansas scored on an 82-yard play that involved an option run by Cromwell and a pitch to Bill Campfield who raced untouched into the end zone. But Cromwell's pitch was ruled an illegal forward pass and the touchdown was erased.
With 9:40 left in the first quarter, the Jayhawks got the ball on their 20 after a 57-yard Carson Long field goal fell short and drove to the Pitt 16 for fourth and inches. Cromwell, fullback Norris Banks and Skip Sharp did the bulk of the running in the Jayhawk wishbone. On fourth down, Cromwell thrust himself ahead on a sneak and seemed to have the first down. But the officials ruled Pitt held, did not bother to measure despite protests from KU coach Bud Moore and Pitt flew back to score.
The Panthers took a 7-0 lead on a pitch from quarterback Haygood to fullback Walked that covered 60-yards. It amounted to a 14-point play because the fourth-down call cost Kansas a touchdown, then Pitt scored.
Pitt had to drive only about 35 yards for its second touchdown when Kansas interfered with a receiver on a punt. All-American Dorsett exploded the final six yards and Long's kick was wide.
With 4:04 to go in the half, Kansas had the ball at its own 49 in good field position. But the Cromwell-Banks handoff misfired. Pitt recovered and the Panthers used most of the rest of the time to drive to paydirt. Dorsett pounded in from the two with 26 seconds left. A conversion pass try was intercepted to hold the count to 19-0.
At halftime, Pittsburgh had 302 total yards to KU's 116, and out-first-downed the Jayhawks 12-6. By halftime, Dorsett had 112 yards in 15 carries, with two touchdowns; Walker had 96 in five tries and one score; Heygood was 13-70 in rushing. Cromwell had 32 yards on 11 carries in the first half.