Pitt is hoping that Rob Petitti is bringing the “Luck of the Irish” with him when he returns to South Bend, Ind. Saturday afternoon.
Pat Narduzzi announced Saturday morning that Petitti — a former All-Big East, All-American offensive tackle at Pitt — will serve as the Panthers’ honorary captain against Notre Dame.
“Today’s honorary captain is a proud Pitt man who knows what it takes to win at Notre Dame,” Pat Narduzzi wrote on Twitter. “Excited to have Rob Petitti with us for this game.”
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) October 28, 2023
Petitti was the starting left tackle when Pitt knocked off Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium in 2004, walking off with some late-game heroics.
Notre Dame tied the game at 38 late after Irish kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick nailed a 45-yard field goal. With 1:17 left, it fell upon Tyler Palko to continue a record-setting performance.
Palko, who completed 26-of-42 pass attempts for 334 yards and five touchdowns (the first five touchdown performance ever against Notre Dame), had a chance to lead the Panthers on a drive later. And so he did, setting up Josh Cummings for a 32-yard field goal with just six seconds left.
And as Cummings’ field goal sailed through the uprights, it secured a Pitt win and a bowl appearance — eventually making an ill-fated Fiesta Bowl appearance against Utah.
But, nonetheless, Pitt thwarted Heisman-hopeful Brady Quinn and the Fighting Irish to record a massive win at Notre Dame Stadium.
Prior to the win, Pitt had won just once since the 1988 season, dropping 11 of 12 games in that span. It was the first win at Notre Dame since 1986 and featured the most points the Panthers ever scored against the Irish — a feat that has not since been beaten.
Pettiti originally arrived at Pitt as a lightly-recruited two-star recruit out of New Jersey, but he quickly established himself as one of the best left tackles in the country. He started four seasons at Pitt, earning All-Big East honors in 2002-04 and All-American honors in 2004.
In four seasons, starting 49 games, he missed just one game due to a concussion. And he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Petitti started all 16 games at right tackle in his rookie, but he would play just 11 games (starting one) with the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers over the next three seasons.