It started out looking like the Nittany Lions would wind up on the short end of the stick, but due to a record-breaking performance by sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the consistent foot of senior kicker Sam Ficken, Penn State (7-6) was able to come back from a 21-7 late in the third quarter to tie at 24 in regulation and beat Boston College (7-6) 31-30 in OT.
Hack was 34-50 for 371 yards and four touchdowns. This performance broke or tied five different Penn State bowl records.
The Hackmeister spread the ball around to eight different receivers. Freshmen Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, along with sophomore Geno Lewis, each had seven catches, including Godwin’s 72-yard touchdown reception.
Nobody gets the Nittany Turkey Panel of Experts Predictor of the Week award. We were all flawed in our prognostication, except maybe K. John, who didn’t make an official prediction. Thus, he can claim that he was right all along.
The Penn State running game never got on track. I’d say they “extablished” the running game, meaning they tried to establish it but it was largely extinguished, although sophomore running back Akeel Lynch wound up with 75 yards on 17 carries. Bill Belton added three carries for a lousy eight yards.
As expected, dual threat graduate scholar quarterback Tyler Murphy was a handful for the Penn State defense. Passing, he was 11-19 for 97 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground he ran eleven times for 105 yards. His freshman sidekick running back Jon Hilliman also ripped apart the vaunted Penn State run defense with 25 carries for 148 yards. By the end of the third quarter, the Eagles had run for 239 yards — that’s 20 more than Ohio State was able to muster in four quarters plus two overtimes.
Yeah, so I’ll give you your #1 rushing defense right here. In all, BC torched them for 285 rushing yards. They averaged 7.7 yards per rush.
Meanwhile, Penn State’s runners were held to 82 yards, a credit sort of to the BC #4 ranked rushing defense.
Tied heading into overtime, BC had the first possession, scoring a touchdown. However, kicking problems that have existed all year for the Eagles picked the wrong time to rear their ugly head. After having made a field goal and three extra points in regulation, freshman place kicker Mike Knoll badly shanked the extra point in overtime, leaving the door open for Penn State.
Hack was up to the challenge, conducting a six play drive culminating in a 10 yard pass to Kyle Carter for the touchdown. It all came down to the trusty foot of Sam Ficken as fans sat on the edge of their chairs. Ficken wound up with a perfect evening, including a 45-yard field goal and four extra points. All were necessary but none so emotional as the game winner.
It was a great way for Ficken to end his Penn State career, and the fun was enhanced by being in the Yankees locker room and using Derek Jeter’s former locker for the evening.
Now, WTF are we going to do for a kicker next year?
Tickets sold out in thirty-six hours. To say that Penn State fans were hungry for a bowl game was an understatement. The final attendance was 49,012.
Great job, Penn State! Way to give us some optimism heading into the hibernation period!
Now, let’s watch those Men of Steel kick some Bengal ass!