Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Star Freshman Whitehead a Silver Lining for Pitt

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Star Freshman Whitehead a Silver Lining for Pitt

Article excerpt

Late in the Pitt-Notre Dame game Saturday, referee Jeff Flanagan mistakenly asked for the clock to be reset to 1:07. He meant :07. Flanagan should have been flagged for a personal foul, cruel and unusual punishment. It would have been awful to ask the biggest Heinz Field crowd for a Pitt game to stay any longer than necessary and watch more of the nasty fanny-kicking on the stadium lawn.

Notre Dame outclassed Pitt in every way, winning, 42-30. The loss was Pitt's second in a row and left it with a 6-3 record, assuring it will finish with at least three defeats for the 34th consecutive year. Jimbo Covert, whose No. 75 jersey was retired by Pitt at halftime, was a junior All-American offensive tackle in 1981, the most recent year Pitt lost fewer than three games.

Pitt couldn't do anything offensively against Notre Dame in the first half. Quarterback Nate Peterman was 3 for 18 with an interception near the Notre Dame end zone. His receivers dropped at least three passes. "[Peterman] can't do it all by himself," coach Pat Narduzzi grumbled. Pitt was even worse defensively in the second half. Notre Dame ran at will, passed at will and scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, prompting an annoyed Narduzzi to mutter, "They only let us play with 11. I'd like to have 12 out there."

Yes, it was a disappointing day in front of legendary Pitt stars Covert, Tony Dorsett, Mike Ditka, Dan Marino and Bill Fralic, and coaches John Majors and Jackie Sherrill.

Thank goodness for Jordan Whitehead.

Whitehead, a freshman from Central Valley High School, is 18 and never heard of Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, arguably the greatest two-way player in football history. But he did a nice impression of Bednarik Saturday. He played every snap as a safety on defense and led Pitt with 11 tackles. He also played running back for the first time this season and scored two touchdowns. He was worth the price of a ticket for the announced crowd of 68,400 even if most of the Pitt team wasn't.

"It was time to let Jordan go play," Narduzzi said.

"Maybe I'm really dumb. Maybe I should have started [using Whitehead on offense] earlier. …

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