"We obviously have some great young talent and that's why we are so confident about the future of this program," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. "We think we're in great shape going forward."
One star the Panthers will have to replace is Aaron Donald, their All-American on the defensive line. Donald, a senior, helped thwart any last-ditch comeback with a sack deep in Bowling Green territory in the final minute.
Dorsett rushed for 202 yards in Pitt's win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1977. The school's receiving record for a bowl came the next season, when Gordon Jones had 163 yards in a Gator Bowl win over Clemson.
Both marks fell Thursday, courtesy of Conner and Boyd.
Chad Voytik relieved Savage and put Pitt ahead 27-20 with a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons — who upset Northern Illinois in Detroit in the Mid-American Conference title game earlier this month — tied it on Matt Johnson's 15-yard strike to Ryan Burbrink with 4:42 to play.
Boyd's 54-yard punt return gave the Panthers a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. Bowling Green (10-4) rallied, tying it at 17 on a 94-yard kickoff return by BooBoo Gates to start the second half.
Bowling Green appeared to catch a break on the kick return by Gates. A tussle behind the play drew a flag as Gates approached the goal line, but officials ruled that the touchdown stood, with offsetting penalties after the play.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl faces an uncertain future now that the Detroit Lions have decided to get in the bowl business and will host a game next season. If this game vanishes from the bowl lineup, the finale was entertaining.
Conner put Pitt ahead 7-3 with a 15-yard scoring run near the end of the first quarter. Boyd nearly lost his balance trying to stay inbounds at the end of his punt return, but he was able to reach the end zone.