Texas A&M 28
Game Day: December 30, 1989
Though each team has played in the Sun Bowl once before, this occasion marked the first time No. 24 Pittsburgh and No. 16 Texas A&M confronted each other in almost one hundred years of football history.
The two ranked teams, no strangers to the holiday bowl season, fought until the end as Pitt rallied behind freshman quarterback Alex Van Pelt’s 44-yard pass to Henry Tuten with 2:01 left to play to give the Panthers a 31-28 win. Van Pelt finished with 354 yards and two touchdowns to earn the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player Award.
The Aggies had previously erased a 24-10 deficit and scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half, but opted to unsuccessfully attempt a two point conversion on each occasion.
It was evident that Van Pelt would dominate the aerial battle, but the Aggies outrushed the Panthers 252-176 with efforts from Robert Wilson, 16 attempts for 145 yards, and Keith McAfee, 15 attempts for 94 yards.
Texas A&M’s Anthony Williams finished with 11.5 tackles to earn the Most Valuable Lineman award and linebacker Arron Wallace earned All-America honors.
Pitt’s Van Pelt was inducted into the Legends of the Sun Bowl in 2004 and punter Brian Greenfield earned All-America honors.
The Sun Bowl marked the first post-season appearance for each head coach. Pitt officially named its offensive coordinator Paul Hackett as head coach moments before the Sun Bowl and Texas A&M’s assistant head coach/defensive coordinator R.C. Slocum was named head coach the previous year.
The historical battle between the two ranked teams went up against and topped both the Freedom Bowl and Peach Bowl in television ratings.