September 15, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Mike Hull (43) scores a touchdown on a recovered fumble in the second half in the game against the Navy Midshipmen at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Navy 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
He took our bowls. He took scholarships. He took every victory from the last 14 years. But on a perfect late summer day, one hundred thousand fans in Happy Valley still sang and cheered an (0 - 2) Penn State squad to victory over a winless service academy.
And Mark Emmert's grinch heart shrank three more sizes. The prick.
The joy in Happy Valley began before the opening kickoff, during warmups. Six thousand students huddled behind the south end zone and cheered wildly for each Sam Ficken practice kick that passed through the uprights. And enough did that the 19-year old was caught smiling.
It continued as Penn State took the ball to start the game, and went 72 yards for a touchdown, in just seven plays - that's 10 fewer plays than it took against Virginia. Matt McGloin finished the drive 3 for 3 with a touchdown to true freshman Jesse James. His second pass went 40 yards - Penn State's biggest gainer of the season - to true sophomore Allen Robinson.
And it rolled on through Navy's first possession. Navy took the ball at their own 25 yard line. They were called for an illegal chop, a false start, and had a run stuffed for a loss of two more yards. They finished with 3-plays-and-out, minus 14 total yards.
The Grinch tried to take the joy from Happy Valley. He failed. Stupid Grinch.
Three Completely Random and Possibly Useless Observations
1) Bill O'Brien found a way to have his team play loose and have fun - and that defies logic. After an (0 - 2) start, and facing a less talented Navy squad they 'should' beat, and with teammates quitting in the middle of the week, this team should have been under all the pressure in the world. Instead, somehow, Bill O'Brien got his squad to play carefree. From the opening drive to the final whistle, they played hard, smiled and celebrated after good plays. They (finally) relaxed and had fun, and no team's ever deserved it more.
How Bill O'Brien got them to realize that? I have no clue.
2) Ted Roof, you silver-haired fox. You sly old dog. You know option football don't you? My hat's off to you, my man. Your defense looked liked they'd played Navy for 10 straight weeks - though I can't remember the last true option offense Penn State's faced. Whether it was the fullback, the quarterback, or the halfback with the ball, the defense knew and played their assignments.
And you've now forced 8 turnovers and 7 sacks in the last two games.
3) Welcome to college football, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong. You can smile now. You've improved each week, and you're beginning to play with confidence. That confidence is well deserved, after you made a great hit in the open field on 3rd and 3 to force a 4th down; and again, in the same series, you forced a fumble to stop Navy's third drive.
And welcome back, Gerald Hodges. It had to feel good getting to actually play OLB instead of 4th cornerback for most of the game. Here's hoping the rest of our opponents disdain 5-wideouts.
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