With Penn State holding a two touchdown lead with nine minutes remaining, and the Purdue Boilermakers driving into Lion territory to slice the deficit in half, freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman blitzed and wrapped up QB Danny Etling. As the pair danced in circles on the way to a sack, senior linebacker Glenn Carson flew in and stuck his helmet on the ball, knocking it loose. Junior linebacker Mike Hull recovered the fumbled, killing the threat. And in that one snap - just two plays after true freshman linebacker Brandon Bell left with a leg injury - Penn State's play-making legacy stood up, and finished the game.
Penn State, like the Illinois game two weeks ago, seemed determined to keep Purdue in the contest despite beating the Boilermakers up and down the field. Up two TDs in the first quarter, the Lions allowed a 40-yard pass, and Purdue's first real touchdown drive in 4 weeks. After taking a three TD lead just before halftime, the kickoff squad let Akeem Hunt return the ball all the way back for a score. And, up 17 points at the start of the 4th quarter, at the Purdue 41 with a drive that could close out the game, QB Christian Hackenberg threw an interception when he was hit by a blitzer as he released the ball.
The Lions, though, had the best linebackers on the field. Wartman, Carson, and Hull made the game winning play, and they held the Boilermakers to just 38 yards on 20 rushing attempts for the day. The unit which took a ton of the blame through the first 11 weeks of the season kept working, and turned in their best effort of the year.
Three Completely Unrelated, Probably Useless Thoughts
1) Penn State's offense may still be rushing the football as this sentence gets typed. BOB called 58 - fifty-eight - rushing attempts, grinding out 289 yards. That's the most rushing yards by Penn State since October 3rd, 2009, versus the Fighting Zookers of Illinois (338 yards).
2) As Akeem Hunt broke to his left, dodged run-on Jesse Merise, and gained steamed, Sam Ficken dove, took out the speedy Hunt's feet, saving a touchdown. The crowd absolutely roared. If you were watching at home, the burst of noise through the TV knocked you back into your couch.
3) Dry ribs, or wet ribs? There's probably not a wrong answer. But after knocking out some of the best (dry) ribs in the history of BBQ this weekend, putting sauce on the side might not be the worst thing in the world. The key? Freshly ground chipotle peppers.
And hey - don't miss Galen's live blogging of the Penn State at Rider wrestling dual meet.
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