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Heisman 1976 Tony Dorsett
AP Photo/Harry Cabluck

'A Once-In-A-Lifetime Athlete'

1976 Heisman winner Tony Dorsett

Every Heisman Trophy winner probably experiences the so-called "Heisman moment," but Pittsburgh running back Tony Dorsett experienced so much more during the seventh game of his senior season in 1976. Midway through his final college season, the undefeated Panthers played Navy in Annapolis, Md. Dorsett needed 152 yards to pass two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin of Ohio State to become the NCAA's all-time leading rusher. Entering the fourth quarter, Dorsett had run for 148 yards on 26 carries. Only five yards shy of breaking Griffin's record, Pitt coach Johnny Majors approached Dorsett on the sideline. "Do you want to break it now or wait until next week and do it at home?" Majors asked him. "Coach, I'm not guaranteed next week," Dorsett told his coach. On the very next play, he took a pitch on an option play and ran 42 yards for a touchdown. In a moment of sportsmanship, Navy fired a cannon in Dorsett's honor. The entire brigade of midshipmen also tossed their hats into the air. Dorsett was mobbed by teammates in the end zone and his parents joined him on the field. He finished his college career with 6,082 rushing yards, an NCAA record that stood for 22 years until Texas' Ricky Williams broke the mark in 1998. More importantly, Dorsett led the Panthers to an 11-0 record and the 1976 national championship.
-- Mark Schlabach


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