EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – On Christmas night, 2022, three Pitt football players were stranded at Dallas’ Love Field, after their flight to El Paso for the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl was canceled.

In a well-chronicled story, fate was on the Panthers’ side that night, because UTEP men’s basketball coach Joe Golding and his family were also stranded in Dallas. Golding, his wife and two children and the three Pitt players ended up riding together from Dallas to El Paso, a nine-hour drive across Texas.

A few months later, the story has another twist to it. Pitt defensive lineman Samuel Okunlola, one of the players that Golding drove to El Paso, was so moved by the good deed that he returned the favor.

This summer, Golding received a package at his office in El Paso. It was the jersey that Okunlola wore in the 2022 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, a dramatic 37-35 Pitt victory over UCLA.

Okunlola framed the jersey for Golding to hang up in his office at UTEP. The story once again went viral online, nine months after the initial drive across the Lone Star State.

The three players – Okunlola, quarterback Jake Frantl and defensive back Hudson Primus – have kept in touch with Golding periodically and even sent him a photo of the three of them at the start of fall camp ahead of the 2023 season.