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Penn State-Purdue Notebook

Written by: on Sunday, October 16th, 2011


Skipping The Beaver Stadium Sidelines

WesternPAFootball Writer

STATE COLLEGE — A win by any means is better than any type of loss. But if you look at the entire package, Saturday’s 23-18 win by Penn State over Purdue can only be spelled U-G-L-Y!!!

While the Lions had numerous best efforts in the game, they also had a lot of the same, most notably putting the ball into the end zone to score touchdowns to put an opponent away for the day.

The Lions had numerous chances to put points on the board only to come up empty, and while they did score a pair of field goals early in the game, it was simply due to the lack of execution while possessing the ball deep in Purdue territory that kept the field goals from becoming touchdowns.

Ugly or not, PSU head coach Joe Paterno is happy and fortunate that his club is 6-1 at this point in the season.

“Any time you win a game I feel fortunate,” Paterno said, “but, I think that viewpoint would be taking something away from the kids. I don’t think I can say if I think I’m fortunate or they’re fortunate. I think that we have a bunch of kids, as I said, that have worked hard. They’ve worked hard since we came back from Florida. When we got that good licking from the University of Florida, we came back and we had a little player meeting. The kids had a good winter and had a good spring practice. Most of them stayed up here all summer to work out. We had a good preseason. So, fortunate? Yeah, fortunate that we got a couple bounces and unfortunate that we made couple of games closer than they should have been because we made some mistakes. I just want to enjoy this one. Then, we’ve got to worry about going out to Chicago next week (to face Northwestern).”

With the outcome of the game still hanging in the balance with eight minutes left and the Lions clinging to a 20-18 lead, Chaz Powell electrified the crowd with a 93-yard kickoff return. But as fate would have it for the Lions, Powell was guilty of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that moved the ball back from the 2-yard stripe to the Purdue 17.

“It’s just something that happened,“ said Powell. “If I could do it all over again, I would have handed the ball over to the officials. They told me after (it happened) that’s the rule and because it’s a close game, they have to call that. Like I said, I would have handed the ball off. They have to call that. They took the initiative that I was trying to get some attention., but I was just in the game, made a big play and I was excited.”

So when did Powell realize that he had made a mistake?

“To be honest I didn’t even know it was a flag,“ he said. “After I got checked out and everything I heard it over the loud speaker that it was 15 yards for excessive celebration. When I heard that I got a little emotional, a little upset because I didn’t think it was (excessive) but like I said, tight game, they have to call it.”

Although not happy with yet another mistake that cost his team valuable yardage, Paterno agreed with the officials.

“I didn’t get the explanation but I know what he (the official) called,“ Paterno said. “You’re supposed to hand the ball off and Powell threw the ball up over his head and you’re not supposed to call attention to yourself. It’s a tough call, but theoretically it’s one they’re supposed to call.”

As a result of the penalty, the ugly red zone inefficiency reared its head once again as the Lions had to settle for Anthony Fera’s third field goal of the game, a 29-yard effort.

The “Pick” Master: Nate Stupar is making the most of the opportunity to play a lot of snaps with Rich Mauti out for the season. In Saturday’s win with the Lions clinging to a narrow 7-6 lead, Stupar picked off a Boilermaker pass and returned the theft to the Purdue 24. After two plays failed to get the Lions into the end zone, Anthony Fera nailed a 29-yard field goal to give State a 10-6 lead at intermission. When things got shaky with two minutes left in the game, Stupar picked off a deflection on the Purdue 19 to all but seal the deal for the Lions.

“The coaches are always telling us to get turnovers and get the ball out and today we did that,” said Stupar. “We got three interceptions and that changes the game. Our offense did really well with not turning the ball over as much and that was good for us.”

As for the Lions being fortunate to be 6-1, Stupar said “I do not think so. Looking toward the Big Ten Championship, every game has been close. I think it shows for us what we can do under pressure and that we can succeed under pressure. Right now we are fortunate that the defense is playing lights out and offense is doing its job.”

Keeping it Local: One week ago, Jacob Fagnano made the tackle on the opening kickoff against Iowa. In Saturday’s win over Purdue, another student-athlete with District 4 ties made the initial hit in the game when Derek Day, whose father (Dwayne) and mother (Lori) have their roots in the Greater Williamsport area, had the big hit on Boilermaker return man Raheem Mostert.

Same Old, Same Old: Rob Bolden got the start for the Lions once again ahead of Matt McGloin and led the ‘Nits down the field for the game’s first score.

After the PSU defense stiffened to force an errant field goal try by Purdue, Bolden guided the PSU offense on a 73-yard, 7-play drive capped by a 1-yard plunge to pay dirt by Curtis Dukes.

Longest of the Season: When Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush hit Justin Siller for a pass covering 50 yards, it marked the longest completion surrendered by the Penn State defense through seven games…..Three possessions after the TerBush-to-Siller connection, the Lion defense surrendered the longest rush by an opponent this season when Ralph Bolden ripped up the gut for 39 yards…..Midway through the third period, Justin Brown returned a Cody Webster punt 33 yards to the Purdue 31. The 33-yard effort by Brown was the longest punt return for the Lions this season.

From The Press Box:

With the win, Penn State, at 6-1, is bowl-eligible for the seventh consecutive season and 38th time in 46 years under Joe Paterno, who is the all-time leader in bowl wins (24) and appearances (37; 24-12-1 record)…..The all-time wins leader among FBS coaches, Joe Paterno’s career record is 407-136-3 (74.8)…..Penn State is tied for the lead in the Big Ten Leaders Division with a 3-0 mark….Penn State is now 11-3-1 all time against Purdue, including having won the last five matchups…Penn State has won three games by 7 points or less for the first time since also winning three in 2007.….The Nittany Lions had five plays today of 20 yards or more, tying a season high (5 at Indiana)…..The three interceptions grabbed by Penn State are a season-high. Penn State last had three interceptions in a game against Temple last year…..Penn State’s three forced turnovers gives the Nittany Lions 17 for the season. Last year, the Lions forced 17 for the entire season…..The touchdown allowed by Penn State in the third quarter was the first allowed by the Nittany Lions in the third stanza this season…..Penn State has allowed only four touchdowns in the last five games and eight for the season.

Best Efforts: LB Gerald Hodges had a career-best three tackles-for-loss for minus-4 yards. His previous best was 1.5 last season against Florida in the Outback Bowl…..DT Devon Still had one tackle-for-loss today for minus-1 yard. This gives him 10 TFL for the season for minus-47 yards. He entered the game No. 2 in Big Ten in TFL. Still also tipped the pass that Nate Stupar intercepted late in the game…..DE Sean Stanley had one sack today, giving him a team-best three sacks for the season and 5.5 for his career…..Saf Nick Sukay’s third quarter interception was his third of the season (including the second consecutive game) and the eighth of his career…..TB Silas Redd gained 131 yards on 28 carries. This marks the fourth 100-yard game of the season for Redd, including the past three games, and is the fifth 100-yard game of his career. Redd is the first Nittany Lion with three consecutive 100-yard games since Evan Royster in 2009 (Minn.-Mich.-Northwestern)…..TB Curtis Dukes scored his first career touchdown in the first quarter on a one-yd run…..WR Justin Brown had a season-high 86 yards receiving…..WR Justin Brown’s 33-yard punt return in the third quarter was the longest of his career and the longest by a Penn State player this season…..WR Brandon Moseby-Felder, who started the first game of his career, had a career-best 21-yard grab in the second quarter. Previously, he had two five-yard catches against Indiana last season…..Moseby-Felder tied a career-best with two catches for a career-best 40 yards…..FB Michael Zordich’s 16-yard pass reception in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career. Previously, he had a 10-yard grab at Minnesota last season…..PK/P Anthony Fera booted a career-long 40-yard field goal in the third quarter…..Fera tied a career-high with three field goals. He had three at Indiana earlier this season. Fera is 9 of 10 on field goals, all coming in the last four games…..Fera’s 69-yard punt in the fourth quarter was the second-longest of his career, and is tied for the 12th longest in the Penn State annals (Bob Parsons at Colorado, 1970)…..DB Chaz Powell’s 92-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter was his second-longest of the season (95-yard touchdown against Indiana State) and the third longest of his career. Powell also had a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown last season against Temple.

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