Hynoski plays keypart in Pitt victory
PITTSBURGH - As befits his new role as a line-clearing blocking back, Henry Hynoski achieved a new football first Saturday - he got stitches for the first time in his career after helping the University of Pittsburgh to a bruising, 24-21 comeback Big East Conference win over the University of Connecticut before 44,893 fans at Heinz Field.
"Never got stitches before," Hynoski, the former Southern Columbia all-stater said, walking a concourse from the Pitt locker room to meet a group of family and friends from his Southern days after the game. The Panthers won on an 18-yard field goal by Loyalsock High graduate Dan Hutchins with no time left on the clock after trailing 21-6 with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter. "I'm not even sure when it happened. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of in a daze right now."
Understandable. Besides getting stitches, Hynoski also had his helmet popped off during the contest.
Pitt improved to 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big East, and managed to win a game against a tough opponent when it wasn't at its best.
Hynoski wore the stitches and bandage, on his chin, with pride, even though the medical work kept him in the locker room longer than he wanted.
"This was a great win for us," he said.
Although Hynoski's statistical numbers would seem pedestrian by his high school standards (4 carries for 8 yards, two pass receptions for nine yards), he is nonetheless an integral part of the Panthers' offense.
He even had a chance to get the game-winning glory himself. After Pitt got a first down at the four with 2:18 remaining, he got two straight carries, for two yards and one yard, to set up Hutchins' field goal.
The old Hyno would have been mad at himself for not scoring. The new Hyno said it wasn't even necessarily part of the plan.
"I don't even know if they wanted me to score," he said. "We just wanted to run the clock down and give Dan a shot at it. The coaches wanted me to get as close to the goal line as I could and not fumble."
And he accomplished both of those objectives.
Hynoski got involved in the offense early, catching a pass from quarterback Bill Stull for a seven-yard gain on the Panthers' fifth play from scrimmage, and he then had a three-yard carry on the third play of their second series.
Later, he had a two-yard reception.
When not blocking, Hynoski is often used in motion, and on those occasions he drifted into the flat as a receiving decoy, and often he was not even picked up by a defender.
"We saw a catch in the Connecticut defense which you could exploit with the screen pass, and we were able to hit that early," Hynoski said.
Because UConn (3-2, 0-1 Big East) entered the game as the number one run defense in the conference, yards figured to be hard to come by at any rate, although the blocking of the offensive line and Hynoski helped Dion Lewis gain 158 yards on 24 carries.
But what really frustrated Hynoski was not finding enough people to hit. He often seemed to be looking for someone to block rather than actually blocking.
"Their linebackers were falling away from the play," he said. "When I thought they'd come inside, they'd go to the outside, and then I just had to go look for someone else."
He did have two pretty good scrapes with UConn strong linebacker Jory Johnson, a 6-1, 211-pound red shirt freshman from Mobile, Ala.
"We slapped each other in the helmet a couple of times," Hynoski said..
"We really didn't say anything to each other. It was just good, hard-nosed football."