1989 John Hancock Bowl
|1989 John Hancock Bowl|
|Date||December 30, 1989|
|Location||El Paso, Texas|
|MVP||QB Alex Van Pelt|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Tim Brant & Dan Jiggets|
Sideline reporters: Greg Gumbel & Lesley Visser
The Aggies finished tied for 2nd in the Southwest Conference in Slocum's first season as coach. Meanwhile, Hackett was the interim head coach who was appointed after Pittsburgh and Mike Gottfried parted ways before the game. This was the Aggies' first Sun Bowl since 1977 and the Panthers' first since 1975.
An 8 play, 93 yard drive by the Panthers led to a Curvin Richards 12 yard touchdown run to give them a 7-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. A&M responded with an 11 play 80 yard drive complete with a Lance Pavlas 9 yard touchdown run to tie the game with :16 in the first quarter. Ed Frazier's 24 yard field goal gave the Panthers the lead back at 10-7. Layne Talbot tied the game with a field goal of his own, from 39 yards. With :18 seconds remaining in the half, Ronald Redmond caught an 8-yard pass from Alex Van Pelt or a touchdown to give the Panthers a 17-10 lead. In the second half, Van Pelt ran in for a touchdown to give them a 24-10 lead. The Aggies soon went on the charge, responding with a Keith McAfee touchdown run to narrow the lead. However, their conversion attempt failed when Brian Ross fell short, making the margin stay at eight. McAfee rushed for another touchdown with :05 remaining in the quarter. On their second conversion attempt, the pass fell short, leaving the score at 24-22. A&M responded with another score, this time on a Randy Simmons touchdown run, to finally give them the lead, with 9:32 remaining. Once again however, their conversion attempt fell short, leaving it at 28-24. Pittsburgh went on a 9 play, 84 yard drive in two minutes, culminating in a Henry Tuten catch of Van Pelt's 44 yard pass for a touchdown to give the Panthers the lead with two minutes remaining. A&M was given one last chance, with the ball at their own 21. They managed to get to the 47 yard line, but on 3rd down with 1:05 remaining, Pavlas' pass was intercepted by Threats, and the Panthers ran out the rest of the time to win. Alex Van Pelt was named MVP for his performance in the game, in which he threw 20-of-40 for 354 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Curvin Richards went for 156 yards on 23 carries and 1 touchdown. In a losing effort, Keith McAfee went for 94 yards on 15 carries for 2 touchdowns.
Hackett would be Pittsburgh's coach for the next three seasons, but he was fired before the final game after amassing a 12-20-1 record. Slocum and the Aggies would win three SWC titles in the next four years.