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U. of Pittsburgh
That Championship Season: Yewcic realized dream after injury to Cavanaugh

Sunday, October 07, 2001

This is the 25th anniversary season of Pitt's 1976 12-0 national championship team. The Post-Gazette is running a weekly diary by members of that team. This week, the author is Tom Yewcic, who was a senior quarterback. He is now a state representative living in Johnstown.

My sophomore year, I met with Coach Johnny Majors with my father, Mike, and he told me a major catastrophe would have to happen before I would ever play for the University of Pittsburgh. Little did he know it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was a walk-on and I didn't even have a number until the Notre Dame opener my senior year. I chose No. 13 because I thought my luck would change.

After Bobby Haygood got hurt against Georgia Tech in the second game, I was just one play away from realizing my goals.

A few weeks later, I played against Potomac State [in a junior varsity game] on a Friday. The next day, Matt Cavanaugh's leg was broken and they threw me in in the second quarter against Louisville.

One of the plays was a quarterback sweep to the left. Tony Dorsett and Elliott Walker were so fast they were 20 yards downfield when they turned to see where I was. I was just rounding the corner, and then I got hit by a couple of linebackers, a defensive end and a defensive back. I dislocated the joint in my shoulder.

I couldn't practice that week until Wednesday. But I was going to start. Coach Majors used to get so nervous he would break out in hives. He was more nervous than I was, I guess.

The offensive line all held hands and made faces at me in the huddle during practice and did a great job of relieving any pressure that was on me.

As a starting quarterback, my fondest memory had to be the Navy game, when Dorsett broke the college rushing record. The play was Haw Option Nine. Tony ran 32 yards and broke the record. The entire bench cleared and mobbed him in the end zone. That moment showed the support we had for one another.

After the Sugar Bowl, when we won the national championship and my playing career was over more or less, I was in Pitt Stadium and one of the media personnel was asking me some questions. The first one was who most influenced me in my career. Without hesitating, I said, "The two guys who hurt Haygood and Cavanaugh's legs."

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