Penn State Beats Temple, Clinches First Bowl Bid Since 2011
Penn State (6-4) head football coach James Franklin said this game was special. Despite the constant mantra of being ‘1-0’ every week, the win this week means the season won’t end the way it has the last two seasons.
It will end with a bowl game.
68 days ago, the NCAA revoked the bowl ban that was placed on the Penn State football program two years ago. Now two months later, with a 30-13 win over Temple, Penn State is bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
“It does mean something a little more special,” said Franklin. “To keep our family together for a month or so after the regular season is really special”
254 of the 366 total yards came on the ground for the Nittany Lions, which was a new season-high.
The 124th ranked rushing offense in the country got back on track with 231 combined yards from senior Bill Belton and sophomore Akeel Lynch.
Lynch led the way with 135 yards, the third time he’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark in his career and Belton ended the day with 96 yards. Temple (5-5) couldn’t keep either running back out of the end zone as they both recorded rushing touchdowns.
Lynch scored the first touchdown of the game with 6:13 remaining in the third quarter on a 38-yard scamper to the outside. Belton preceded the run with a 37-yard rush of his own.
“We have that kind of thing when we know each other’s highest [run] and in my head I’m like I have to get him,” Lynch said. “When I saw the hole, I said ‘I’m scoring’ and I got to keep that mindset in my head.”
With left tackle Donovan Smith back and another week of left guard Miles Dieffenbach, the running attack received a much-needed boost.
“I really felt like we were doing a good job at the line of scrimmage,” said Franklin. “I think Donovan [Smith] made a difference and having Miles Dieffenbach back was a little dramatic because he’s still a little rusty.”
Despite the success from the Penn State running game, the passing yardage for Penn State didn’t reflect the offense positively.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg struggled again with his fifth game this year throwing at least two interceptions. Hackenberg finished 12-for-26 with only 112 yards.
The offense clicked on the opening drive and it took a while to regain the momentum the rest of the first half.
“I think it was just inconsistency whether it was me missing one guy or trying to force something,” said Hackenberg. “That all goes back to us being so young, but it’s all part of the learning process.”
On the other side of the ball, the top-ranked rushing defense led the way again allowing 61 yards on the afternoon. With another team-high ten tackles, senior linebacker Mike Hull climbed up the Penn State all-time tackle list surpassing Glen Carson for 10th in school history.
Hull is one of the redshirt seniors that was involved with the last bowl game and knows how great it will be to play in another one this year.
“I think now we just want to keep getting as many wins as we can so we can get to a better bowl game,” said Hull. “We still have two games left and we want to make the most out of those two opportunities.”
Junior cornerback Trevor Williams was a late scratch due to a non-injury reason, but a young secondary showed up to provide a lot of havoc on the Temple receivers.
That young secondary, that does have a lot of experience, however, helped tie a season-high with five turnovers. Interceptions accounted for four of the takeaways, testament to the speed of a defensive scheme under coordinator Bob Shoop.
“They’ve been playing all year long and they’ve been playing well,” Franklin said. “What you see on defense is we have depth, play makers and we are recruiting as many guys that are long and athletic.”
The first interception came from senior Adrian Amos that helped set up a two-touchdown lead for Penn State late in the third quarter.
Freshman Grant Haley’s first career interception was returned 30 yards for a touchdown only a minute into the fourth quarter. That gave Penn State a 27-13 lead and a fumble on the next Temple drive recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Austin Johnson all but sealed the deal.
“We knew our objective was to win the turnover margin and those freshmen stepped up,” said defensive tackle Anthony Zettel. “To step up and make big plays shows the potential for them.”
Penn State plays the final road game of the 2014 season next week against Illinois, but the post-season memories are starting to rekindle.
The last one in 2011 is still fresh in the seniors’ minds and it’s something they would all like to see go away.
Just like the sanctions that altered one of the most historic athletic programs in the country.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/York Daily Record, Chris Dunn)
Ryan Stevens is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.