To answer the story title question briefly, Penn State was overwhelmed by a high flying BTPR defense in the first half, but weathered the storm with another strong defensive performance. The offense began to move the ball after halftime, but did not find the end zone until New Jersey native Bill Belton walked in with just over a minute left to rip BTPR's hearts out.
Three games into the season, I think we are able to start to say a few things with a good amount of confidence. One, this defense is really really good. Sure, BTPR was able to move the ball early, but for the third time this season, they held their opponent to under 300 yards of total offense, and limiting Paul James to just 54 yards on 14 carries.
Two, the offense is going to be learning on the job. BTPR was able to get to Hackenberg early and often last night, while keeping the Lions' rushing game in check. The frustration among the players (and fans) was apparent. But to give credit where it's due, John Donovon and the offensive staff were able to make adjustments during halftime to at least slow down the Scarlet Knights' pass rush and get the offense on track and moving the ball, and ultimately, score the winning touchdown.
Finally, it may be only 3 games in, and yes, the two come from behind wins were against UCF and BTPR, not Ohio State or Sparty, but this team has already shown twice that "never say die" attitude that endears them to fans. There are 9 games left, and bigger challenges to be faced, but even during the struggles of the first 30 minutes, the game never felt like it was out of reach. There is something to be said for a team knowing how to win.
Three Completely Unrelated, Probably Useless Thoughts
1. 2012 Deion Barnes is back. He was almost unblockable at times last night, and when he was contained, it was done illegally. BSD will name our MVP on Monday, but consider this my vote for the junior from Philly.
2. How great was it seeing the New Jersey natives have such a big impact on the game last night, including Bill Belton backing up his "big time football" comment with the game winning score. Brandon Bell had a key late interception as well.
3. For as much crap as the coaches got in the first half, credit them for adjusting the game plan, especially on offense, at halftime. Hack said as much on the BTN post game show, but while the offensive line did not do a 180, they were able to do enough to buy him time to make those downfield throws.