Pitt has only played Eastern Michigan once before, in 1995, a meeting that had a local flavor because Steel Valley graduate Charlie Batch was the Eagles’ quarterback.
Now in his seventh season with the Steelers, Batch spent a few moments this week reflecting on that game with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Steelers beat reporter Scott Brown.
The Pitt-EMU game still has special meaning to Batch, a Homestead native who started getting calls for tickets when the game was announced earlier that spring. He traded tickets for the Ball State and Northern Illinois games with teammates to get extras for the game at Pitt Stadium.
“It was my first opportunity to come home and play in front of the home fans and family,” Batch said. “It was a special moment. I had over 100 tickets for that game I had to get.”
That the Panthers won by such a lopsided margin, 66-30, doesn’t tell the entire story. Eastern Michigan’s Stevie Clay returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and the Eagles led 10-7 after the first quarter and 17-10 with 12:50 remaining in the first half.
Pitt then scored 31 points before halftime, on a 41-yard field goal by Chris Ferencik, a 55-yard run by Maurice Harris, a 66-yard pass from John Ryan to Dietrich Jells, a 10-yard pass to Chris Schneider and a 7-yarder to Jells with 32 seconds left.
By the end of the third quarter, Pitt had scored 49 unanswered points for a 59-17 lead. Ryan finished 13 of 21 for 288 yards and three touchdowns, Harris had 11 carries for 149 yards and three touchdowns and Jells had four receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns as Pitt compiled 648 yards total offense to EMU’s 451.
Batch completed 21 of 38 passes for 264 yards.
“We just ran out of gas at the end,” Batch said. “It seemed like they had their 4×100-meter team out there for receivers. There were a lot of points scored that day.”