clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lion Tales: Delaware

A Lion turned Blue Hen’s most famous moment

Penn State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Penn State and Delaware have never played each other on the football field. But, a conference player of the year for the Blue Hens scored one of the most celebrated touchdowns in Penn State football history.

Settle in, folks. It’s Wednesday and time for another deep dive into Penn State football with Professor Bennett.

Pat Devlin, he of Downingtown, was a four-star quarterback who signed with the Nittany Lions back in February 2006 as Penn State was fresh off a Big Ten title.

The former Miami commit would wind up playing an interesting part in the next, and final, conference title for Joe Paterno.

After redshirting in 2006 and serving as a backup behind Anthony Morelli and Darryl Clark in 2007, Devlin battled Clark for the starting spot in 2008.

Through the first four games, Devlin got a decent amount of playing time as he completed 18-of-35 passes for 260 yards as Penn State jumped out to a 4-0 record. At that point, it became clear that Clark was going to get the bulk of snaps as the season progressed, a Paterno decision that paid off with Clark ultimately being named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year.

More than that, Clark was viewed as a driving force behind the “Spread HD” offense that saw Penn State catapult into the Top 5.

For those newer followers here at BSD, Penn State had its best offensive line in ages and with its typically stellar defense seemed a real threat to reach the BCS title game in 2008. The biggest hurdle seemed to be a late October showdown in the Horseshoe against Ohio State. Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, Penn State hadn’t won in Columbus with most of those games being very one sided.

Well, with Brent Musburger on the call, a sold out crowd in attendance, and with ABC showing a Paterno montage backed by the glorious vocals of Brandi Carlile, Penn State was locked up in a classic defensive struggle against the Buckeyes.

Trailing 6-3 in the fourth quarter, Clark was banged up on a designed quarterback run before Penn State punted. With Ohio State moving the ball toward midfield, shots of the sideline showed Clark clearly upset and without his helmet.

So when Mark Rubin, wide receiver turned safety and youth swimming rival to Michael Phelps, punched the ball loose from Ohio State freshman star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, it was Devlin who came trotting on the field.

Over the years, Devlin’s role in a pair of scoring drives has probably been overstated.

I did a review of the game and here was that scoring drive, which started in Ohio State territory following the mad scramble to recover Pryor’s fumble.

On first down, noted lacrosse player Evan Royster ran for nine yards to the Ohio State 29-yard line. The next play would be Devlin’s only attempted pass as he tried to hit Derrick Williams off of play action.

The ball was overshot, but Williams was clearly held on the attempt, too. That meant a first down at the Ohio State 14-yard line. Penn State followed with six consecutive running plays, the most crucial of which saw Royster convert a third down and put Penn State on the doorstep.

After Dan Lawlor was stuffed on first and goal, Devlin attempted back-to-back sneaks, the second of which put him in the endzone and gave Penn State a 10-6 lead.

The Nittany Lions would add an insurance field goal in the closing minutes thanks to a steady dose of Royster and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Buckeyes.

In the end, Devlin accounted for three rushes for three yards, while technically not attempting a pass on the stat sheet.

After the game, Paterno said “How many times have I told you Pat Devlin is a heck of a quarterback. We’re lucky to have two.”

Meanwhile, Devlin downplayed entering the game.

“I have no idea,” he said of why he entered the game. “They just told me to go in.”

We won’t relive the two weeks that followed, but Devlin’s last - and truly only - significant snaps with the Nittany Lions were taken in the fourth quarter that night in Columbus.

Prior to the Rose Bowl, Devlin announced his decision to transfer to Delaware where the rules of the time gave him instant eligibility.

In 2009, he passed for 2,644 yards and 16 touchdowns, but it was his senior year for the Blue Hens that was spectacular. During that season, he passed for 3,032 yards, 22 touchdowns and was intercepted just three times - winning the CAA and ECAC Offensive Player of the Year Awards and helping the Blue Hens to the FCS title game where they lost 20-19 to Eastern Washington.

Devlin went on to bounce around the NFL for a few years as a backup, but the memory most Penn State fans will always recall is that touchdown sneak and taking a knee to close out one of the best road wins for Penn State since joining the Big Ten.