Nittany Lions Defeat In-State Foe During Stripe Out

Story posted September 17, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Zach Green

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Temple Owls entered the matchup against Penn State having never won in 25 tries at Beaver Stadium. And that streak will live on as Penn State came away with the victory, 34-27 in front of over 100,000 fans in the second-ever “stripe out game.”

Penn State entered the matchup banged up on defense missing four starters. Two of which were Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda, both linebackers, which was already the position that the Nittany Lions were the thinnest at. In the second quarter, they would also lose Nyeem Wartman-White, the other starter.

Penn State head coach James Franklin spoke about players needing to step up due to injuries.

“You get in a situation when you’re thin at linebacker, and you don’t have Nyeem Wartman, and you don’t have Brandon Bell, and you don’t have Jason Cabinda,” Franklin said. “Three of the better linebackers in the Big Ten in my opinion, and you got guys that go in there and step up.”

Brandon Polk would receive the opening kickoff for Penn State inside of a striped out Beaver Stadium, which he returned near midfield. But the offense would not be able to do much and would be forced to punt. Freshman punter Blake Gillikin would pen the Owls inside their own one-yard line with a near perfect punt. Punting has been a big improvement for Penn State this year, and Franklin took notice of it.

“Our punter, Gillikin continues to do a great job for us, that’s been big for us and we have to continue with that,” Franklin said.

After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Nittany Lions would strike for a touchdown on only the second play of their next drive with a 52-yard pass to Chris Godwin.

The Owls would answer quickly though, completing a 67-yard pass down to the eight-yard line and score on the next play by way of a Jahad Thomas rush. That was his first carry of the season.

With star sophomore running back Saquon Barkley injured on the first play of the game, Penn State’s rushing attack would come from a myriad of other sources including freshmen Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders, as well as sophomore Mark Allen. Robinson would eventually punch it in from the three-yard line to put Penn State back in the lead. The touchdown capped off a 13 play, 69-yard drive and was Robinson’s first of his career. Penn State gained 138 total yards in the first quarter compared to last year’s total 183 yards over the entire game.

Trace Mcsorley would score on a two-yard keeper midway through the second quarter to push the lions ahead 21-7, and Saquon Barkley would return to the field towards the end of the second quarter as well.  Temple converted a field goal with four seconds left in the half to bring the score at halftime to 21-10.

The Nittany Lions struck first in the second half on a 40-yard field goal by Tyler Davis after a 52-yard, one handed reception by Mike Gesicki. But, the Owls would respond in a big way, driving right down the field and scoring a touchdown on a Phillip Walker run on fourth down.

Now trading scores, Penn State would drive down to the Temple 13 before settling for a field goal and a 27-17 lead. Temple would get a stroke of good luck as their rugby-style punt bounced off of Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye, which Temple recovered it at the Penn State one-yard line.

Jahad Thomas would score on a jet sweep on third down to bring the score within 3. Franklin briefly touched on dealing with these kinds of plays after the game.

“We found a way to grind it out, and get a win against a good football team,” Franklin said. “Something to build on.”

That score would not last long as Saquon Barkley who had not been seeing much of the ball at that point would break a 55-yard touchdown leaving a trail of defenders in his wake to put the Nittany Lions up 34-24 with six minutes left in regulation.

With two minutes remaining, Temple kicked a 34-yard field goal to get back within a touchdown and needed an on-sides kick to have a chance. It was recovered by Daesean Hamilton, but after going three-and-out, Temple would get one more shot. Phillip Walker’s pass was intercepted by John Reid, after getting hit by Garrett Sickels, which sealed the game for Penn State who came away victors 34-27.

James Franklin specifically mentioned redshirt junior linebacker Brandon Smith as one of the key players today on defense.

“Brandon Smith is a guy that from the day we arrived here, all he does is try to be the best teammate he possibly can be, keeps getting better and better,” Franklin said. “For him to go in and have seven tackles, be really productive, call the defense, communicate with the defense, that was big time, so really, really proud of Brandon.”

Next week the Nittany Lions head out to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines.

 

Zach Green is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He can be reached by email at zag5035@psu.edu.