‘All aboard’ call generates 3 busloads

Emily Moore, Staff Writer

Pitt-Johnstown Campus Service coordinators have always provided transportation for students to go to University of Pittsburgh football games at Heinz Field.

The second week of football season, the Pittsburgh Panthers took on in-state rival Pennsylvania State University.

Tickets were sold out for the game and Heinz Field was flooded with people, many of the Pitt-Johnstown students who were lucky enough to get a ticket used the campus-provided bus transportation.

“We transported 91 students,” said Pitt-Johnstown Student Affairs staff member John Ziats.

Attendance at the game turned out to be the largest crowd to watch a sporting event in the city’s history – 69,983.

“We expected there to be a large turnout, but having the largest crowd ever for a sporting event in Pittsburgh was beyond expectations.”

Pittsburgh and Penn. State faced off before this year, 16 years ago, Pittsburgh defeated Penn State 12-0 at Heinz Field… making the 2016 match-up one of the biggest games in Pittsburgh football history.

“The Penn. State game was a unique situation, because of the in-state rivalry and that the teams haven’t met in so long. I’m not sure if we could match the number of that game,” said Ziats.

Even 16 years ago Pitt-Johnstown students did not pack more than one bus for a football game, according to Ziats.

“As far as I know, UPJ has never taken more than one bus to a Pitt Football game,” said Ziats.

“It would be great to have that many students again. Hopefully, we can match those numbers as Pittsburgh contends for a Bowl Championship Series bid.”

The buses transport the students to the front gate of Heinz Field, right by the tailgate area on North Shore Drive.

This area of drop-off and pick-up provides almost a luxury for Pitt-Johnstown students because they do not have to walk far to get to and from the game.

Other in-conference games for the Pittsburgh Panthers are never big enough games to fill Johnstown buses.

“I do not think I have ever been on a bus where every single seat was full,” said junior Spencer Kale.

“The last bus trip I took was to the Villanova game and there were only a couple empty seats, but it was the season opener too.”

Almost every student knew that the Pitt-Johnstown buses were going to be full for the Penn. State game, so most students drove to Heinz Field, according to Kale.

“I prefer to take the buses usually, but it was such a big game,” said Kale.

Pittsburgh Panthers were victorious over the Penn. State Nittany Lions in their 2016 face-off, putting the people of the City of Pittsburgh on Cloud 9.

“What a great win and a great trip for our students,” said Ziats.

The Pittsburgh Panthers and Penn. State Nittony Lions will match up again Sept. 9, 2017 at Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA.

Penn. State nearly made it all the way back from a 21-point deficit.

The Nittany Lions had the ball at the Pitt 31 yard line with less than 90 seconds to play when Penn. Sate sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley dropped back and lofted a rainbow toward the back of the end zone to no one in particular.

Pittsburgh Panther fifth year senior cornerback Ryan Lewis picked off McSorely to secure the Panthers 42-39 victory.