PITTSBURGH — After Pitt jumped out to a shocking 21-0 lead against No. 15 UCF last Saturday, the Knights roared back to score 31 unanswered points to shock the hometown crowd at Heinz Field.
Midway through the third quarter, while the Panthers seemed to be in their deepest trouble, things got worse whenPitt quarterback Kenny Pickett went down with a shoulder injury.
While Pickett was able to walk off the field, he still had to get checked out by the medical staff. So Pitt gave the ball to redshirt freshman Nick Patti. Patti had never thrown a pass or even appeared in a game for Pitt before that moment.
Pitt was trailing by ten points, with their backs against the wall, and the fear of giving away another ranked win, Patti had a lot on his shoulders.
Patti responded, just like he thought he would.
“When I saw Kenny go down, it was kind of just, grab my helmet, throw a couple of balls, and get ready to go,” said Patti.
Patti threw three passes, with two completions for 16 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed twice for 18 yards.
On the touchdown pass, Patti scrambled, eluded a couple of Knights, bounced out of the pocket, and looked off a UCF defender before hitting Dontavius Butler-Jenkins in the corner of the endzone.
That’s not a football play that a lot of backup quarterbacks are able to make, let alone in their first real action, in a big game.
“I always have that kind of confidence — and practicing every day, against our defense … if you can make throws on them, then you can make them on anybody,” said Patti.
Patti didn’t feel many nerves at that point in the game, regardless of how massive of a possession that was for Pitt in the grand scheme of that game.
“I’ve been playing football my whole life, so just getting back into that … it just felt good to be playing again,” said Patti.
This could very well be Patti’s team to lead in a couple years from now. Seeing him produce, this early on, probably opened some eyes for people around the Pitt program.
For Patti, that’s not his main focus right now.
“That’s not really what I’m worried about,” said Patti. “I wanted to get in there and do whatever I could to help the team win.”
Patti did just that, and may have a larger chance to make a name for himself this Saturday against Delaware.