WVU football split series at Three Rivers Stadium


For 30 years, Three Rivers Stadium stood proudly on the North Shore of Pittsburgh.

A home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates, many sports fans of the tri-state area have fond members of seeing amazing moments and creating memories at the massive structure.

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There was The Immaculate Reception. And, the first night game of the World Series.

Then, there were two games of the Backyard Brawl.

The Pitt and WVU football teams have met 104 times on the gridiron in either Pittsburgh or Morgantown. The longstanding series, which is now on a hiatus but will resume in 2022, has been played in a few venues including Old Pitt Stadium, Old Mountaineer Field, Milan Puskar Stadium and Heinz Field.

But for two games, the Backyard Brawl was played at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. That’s where Three Rivers Stadium once stood.

The 15th anniversary of Three Rivers Stadium’s implosion just passed (Feb. 11), so here’s a look back at those two games between the Panthers and the Mountaineers.

West Virginia earned a decisive 52-14 win over Pitt on Nov. 27, 1998. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 17-0 lead. Pitt would only close the gap to 10 points before WVU rattled off 35 unanswered points.

For the Mountaineers, Amos Zereoue, who would later be drafted by the Steelers, ran 20 times for 110 yards. WVU quarterback Marc Bulger, a Pittsburgh native, was 26 of 37 passing for 409 yards and six touchdowns.

That win, seen by 43, 254 fans at Three Rivers Stadium, capped off an 8-3 regular season for the Mountaineers. The season wouldn’t end happily, however, as Missouri knocked off West Virginia, 34-31, in that year’s Insight.com Bowl.

WVU’s next game at Three Rivers Stadium wouldn’t be as welcoming.

On Nov. 24, 2000, the Panthers earned a 38-28 win.

This time around, it was Pitt who jumped out to an early lead, going up 14-0 midway through the second quarter. The Mountaineers wouldn’t gain an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter on a 17-yard pass from Scott McBrien to Khori Ivy.

The Mountaineers were limited to just 49 rushing yards, and this was with all-time leading rusher Avon Coubourne starting in the backfield. Now, he did gain 100 yards on 20 carries, but Pitt recorded four tackles for a loss that cost WVU negative-43 yards.

For Pitt, future professional Kevan Barlow had a field day going for 272 yards on 33 carries with four touchdowns.

Three months after that game, Three Rivers Stadium came tumbling to the ground. It was torn down to make way for two new sports facilities, Heinz Field and PNC Park. Both were already being built as Three Rivers Stadium was becoming prepared to be demolished. So, a parking lot and, now, Stage AE concert hall sit where Three Rivers Stadium once stood.

Whether you are a Pittsburgh professional sports fan or not, anybody can appreciate the sports history that Three Rivers Stadium had on the region.

Plus, the Mountaineers were a part of that history, albeit in a small fashion.