As Devin so aptly put it in his post game recap yesterday, technically that was football. There were 20 punts between the two teams, a whopping 7 third down conversions (out of 34 chances), a pick 6, a blocked field goal, 17 penalties, and 4 turnovers. And the Nittany Lions found a way to get a win for the first time in 7 weeks.
14 points came in about as crazy a 20 second sequence as you'll find in football. Mark Murphy jumped a wide receiver screen pass from Christian Hackenberg, and returned in 47 yards for what would be the Hoosiers' only score of the day. On the ensuing kickoff, Grant Haley opted for a return out of the end zone, and was brought down at the 8. Apparently, that was exactly what PSU was looking for. On the first play from scrimmage, Bill Belton took a delayed hand off out of the shotgun, and went 92 yards for the longest touchdown run in Penn State's storied football history. Football is a weird game.
Those three plays are really the highlights of the game. PSU had a first and goal at the one that resulted in two failed runs, a curious quarterback draw, and Sam Ficken's third blocked field goal of the season, which resulted from the left side of the line totally collapsing. If you're keeping score at home, Ficken's three misses have all come on blocks.
The story of the day was again Bob Shoop's defense. Tevin Coleman, who entered the day with 1,300 yards on the ground was held to just 71 (on 20 carries). Hoosier QB Zander Diamont did most of his damage with his legs, again struggling through the air. All told, PSU had 9 TFLs, including 1 sack, and probably could have had more if Dave Witvoet and Co. were familiar with the penalty of holding.
Three Random, Probably Completely Useless Thoughts
1. You have to feel pretty good for Bill Belton making a huge play yesterday. He is of course one of those seniors who have been through everything at PSU in the last 4 years, and has struggled behind the offensive line all season. Etching your name into the record books with the longest touchdown run in program history is but a small consolation prize for a senior that we should all thank for their dedication to Penn State.
2. Mike Hull took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Yes, that Mike Hull. This may help explain why he was a little ticked off:
We all remember Indiana as the team that, ahem, "cut blocked" Mike Mauti and ended his Penn State career two years ago. Fortunately the senior linebacker was OK after the late, low hit yesterday.
3. I really have no idea what to expect the next three weeks. Temple and Illinois are very winnable games, especially with this defense, but the offensive struggles will make everything interesting. At this point, just get another win or two, get to a bowl game, make great use of 15 practices, and give this senior class a proper send off. And hey, maybe the 2004 similarities will continue with a surprise offensive explosion against Sparty in Beaver Stadium in 20 days.