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Latest edition of old rivalry has moments

MORGANTOWN -- A delightfully noisy crowd.

A mild, breezy late-November day.

Bad calls by the referees.

A chastised band.

Trash talk and personal fouls.

Ah, Pitt-West Virginia.

The Backyard Brawl.

If nothing else, the 94th edition of the annual Backyard Brawl was entertaining to say the least.

Despite being outplayed dramatically from a physical standpoint, West Virginia showed a lot of savvy in keeping what should of been a rout close.

The final score of 23-17 doesn't show how much better Pitt was than the Mountaineers.

But it did tell of how competitive the Mountaineers were and how much heart they played with.

But what would a Pitt-West Virginia game be without some sideshows and controversy?

While many feared a crowd of about 35,000 would show, the beautiful autumn weather seemed to draw fans out of the woodwork.

An abundance of loud Pittsburgh fans helped, as they seemed to fire up the home towners.

An official's chastisement of the WVU band for playing while Pitt was coming to the line of scrimmage probably made the noise factor even more intolerable for the Panthers.

The crowd booed and growled even louder as Pitt tried to call signals.

Many in the stands said it wasn't even the West Virginia band playing at the time. Instead, they said, it was the Pitt pep band which had about 50 members on hand. Whichever it was, you'd think the officials would have better things to do.

Like ... make calls properly.

How could an official rule a fumble by Pitt quarterback David Priestly caused by the ground when he was standing straight up when the ball came loose? Or how about Antonio Bryant's great catch in the back of the endzone ruled a touchdown when his foot was clearly out of the back of the endzone.

Of course, a long pass down the sidelines to Bryant later in the game looked good on replay. The official closest to the play ruled him out.

Things do have a way of evening out.

Bryant did his share of trash talking on this day. So did the Mountaineers. But Bryant backed his up and that proved to be the difference on a glorious fall Saturday at Mountaineer Field.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com

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