Trailing 27-3 midway through the 3rd quarter, facing 3rd and 10, Christian Hackenberg stared down a blitz, got clobbered, but drilled a 15-yard completion to DaeSean Hamilton for a first down. On the next snap, Akeel Lynch took a run outside for another 20 yards or so, and the frozen crowd screamed with enthusiasm. The ever present Beaver Stadium DJ took a restroom break from reminding everyone to "make some noi-oise", so the Penn State Blue Band fired up, and took over the momentum. It was glorious. Going hurry up, the Penn State offense fired completion after completion, and capped off the drive with a nifty draw to Lynch for a much needed touchdown.
The magic proved fleeting, though, just as it has for this offense all year. The defense got the offense the ball back after a missed Spartan 44-yard field goal. Penn State went 3-and-out, with James Franklin choosing to punt on 4th-and 3 near midfield, with just 9:05 left, down 17 points. He was booed. To make up for punting, Franklin went for it on 4th and 20, from their own 20 yard line, with just over 5 minutes left, and came up 20 yards short. A few plays later, Jeremy Langford ran off tackle for a touchdown to make the score 34-10. That's how the game ended, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The 17 Penn State seniors deserved a victory Saturday, wearing the blue and white for the last time in Beaver Stadium. They'd been through 4 head coaches, unprecedented sanctions, and everything that came with that. Unfortunately, as Will Muney once spoke, "deserve's got nothing to do with it". And, indeed, clearly it does not.
But no senior class has ever displayed more commitment. These seniors were 2nd and 3rd year players when the sanctions were announced. Practically none of them had made their mark at Penn State to that point. If they saw the field at all, they were spot starters or role players. The enticement to leave was at its peak, and they could all suddenly transfer, penalty free.
They all stayed. They stayed for themselves, for their teammates, for Penn State. And they'll be remembered by all of us for that act far longer than the score of this game. Congratulations seniors - you've all made your mark on this fanbase, and none of us will soon forget it.