Graham rushes for 277 yards in Pitt's win
College Football Videos
Ray Graham started against Florida International University only because Dion Lewis was out with a sore shoulder.
"I learned (I was starting) the day of the game," Graham said. "Since Dion was hurt, we didn't know if he would be able to play. Just play it safe, and put me out there."
By the end of the day, Graham was being mentioned in the same breath as Tony Dorsett.
The sophomore rushed for 277 yards — the second-highest total in Pitt history — and three touchdowns on 29 carries to lead Pitt to a 44-17 victory over FIU at Heinz Field on Saturday.
"That was about as good an effort as I've seen by an individual," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said.
In the lore of Pitt football, only Dorsett had a more prolific day running the football, gaining 303 yards against Notre Dame at Pitt Stadium in 1975.
Pitt's other great backs - Ironhead Heyward, Curtis Martin, LeSean McCoy, Kevan Barlow and Curvin Richards - never equaled Graham's production.
Working behind a new-look offensive line that featured Jordan Gibbs at right tackle and Lucas Nix at right guard, Graham gained 173 yards in the second half.
Pitt (2-2), which led only 13-10 at halftime, scored three touchdowns in an eight-minute span of the fourth quarter to rebound from a lopsided loss to Miami on Sept. 23 and gain some momentum heading into next week's game at Notre Dame.
"They wore us down," FIU coach Mario Cristobal said.
Graham had touchdown runs of 34, 79 and 19 yards for his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game. He had a chance to break Dorsett's record, but he didn't get any carries after his 19-yard touchdown run gave Pitt a 37-17 lead with 4:33 to play.
Pitt went with third-stringer Chris Burns after the Panthers recovered a fumble at the FIU 16 with 3:35 to play. Graham needed 27 yards to break Dorsett's hallowed record; there wasn't enough real estate to get it.
"I would have liked to have broken the record," Graham said. "But I was satisfied with the W."
Graham, an Elizabeth, N.J., native, also caught three passes for 19 yards and returned two kickoffs for 78 yards to give him 374 all-purpose yards. That is believed to tie the school record set by Dorsett (303 rush, 71 receiving) against Notre Dame in 1975.
"After my third touchdown, they said I was on pace to (break the record)," Graham said. "I was excited, but just being mentioned with a great back like Dorsett is a blessing."
Perhaps Graham's biggest play was a reception. After FIU (0-4) had cut the Pitt lead to 23-17 with 12:07 to play, the Panthers faced a third-and-13 at their own 6. Graham caught a check-down pass from Tino Sunseri, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown, and bulled his way for a 15-yard gain.
"His individual effort after contact was unbelievable," Wannstedt said.
On the next play, Graham broke through the line and outran the FIU defense 79 yards for a touchdown to give Pitt a 30-17 lead with 9:43 to play.
Graham credited the offensive line for opening holes and the wide receivers for making downfield blocks.
"Any play," he said, "can be a big play."
Ray Graham's 277 rushing yards on Saturday are the most by anyone in Division I football this year (not including other Saturday games):
Ray Graham : 29 carries, 277 yards, vs. Florida International
Denard Robinson, Michigan : 28 carries, 258 yards, vs. Notre Dame
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State : 21 carries, 257 yards, vs. Washington State
Daniel Thomas, Kansas State : 28 carries, 234 yards, vs. UCLA
Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State : 23 carries, 228 yards, vs. Missouri
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former drug dealer, addict give away groceries as part of church’s outreach
- Scout’s kiosk to tell brave woman’s tale
- Project SEED expands
- Electricity rates expected to increase this winter
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- Expansion in works for Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
- Trib high school rankings for Sunday, Sept. 21
- Pirates’ 5-game winning streak ends with 1-0 loss to Brewers
- Inside the glass: Sutter takes puck to face
- Penguins’ Rutherford hopes to raise Cup again
- Pentagon program seeks to retain U.S. technological edge against foreign rivals