City Sports Report

Penn State wins Pinstripe Bowl by Jason Schott

Pinstripe Bowl Penn State 12-27-14 (Photo by Jason Schott)

The Penn State Nittany Lions won the Pinstripe Bowl in a thriller, 31-30, in overtime over Boston College on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

This was Penn State’s first bowl game since the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011, and it was the first year they were eligible for a bowl game after the penalties resulting from it.

Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said afterwards, “On the season, the game tonight, we have a way of starting the season in a dramatic fashion and ending the season in a dramatic fashion, starting in Dublin, Ireland, ending in New York City. Who could of drew it up better than that? The way the guys persevered all season wasn’t always pretty, but we stuck together, and to me that’s who we are, blue-collar, hard-nosed program. I took a lot of time in the locker room to thank the seniors. You have heard me say this time and time again, but these guys will be remembered forever, for standing strong when we needed them to stand strong, to lay the foundation for great things to come. Every win we have next year and for eternity will be on their backs.”

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was named the MVP, as he threw for 4 touchdown, 371 yards, and completed 34 of 50 passes. 

Franklin said of Hackenberg and the criticism he faced this year, “yeah, you know, I tried all season long to deflect that as much as I could, not because I didn’t think Christian couldn’t handle it, but because I’ve been telling everybody before the season started that, everyone is talking about Christian, Christian, Christian. That wasn’t really the issue. We had to make sure we developed the guys around him. There was a lot of production that had left. We knew we had challenges on the offensive line.

“We played a team I think tonight, every one of their starters on the offensive line was a graduate senior. I think they had 146 or something starts going into the season. We had one returning starter on the offensive line. I think he had like 21 starts. It all starts up front. On the offense, on the defense. I’m happy for him. Again, this springboards us into the off-season.

“It’s tough nowadays. With social media, you can’t protect your players the way you used to. But I love Christian Hackenberg, I couldn’t trade him for anybody. I think he’s got a really bright future at Penn State moving forward. I will fight and defend him till the end,” said Franklin.

The game was tied at 7 at halftime, as it seemed both teams were rusty in the first half after having not played for a month. 

In the third quarter, Boston College opened with an 11-play, six-minute, and 53 second drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Murphy to Shakim Phillips to make it 14-7. The Boston College defense responded by halting a 12-play Penn State drive by forcing a fumble by Hackenberg at the Boston College 29-yard line. The Boston College momentum continued as Murphy ran in a touchdown from 40 yards out to give them a commanding 21-7 lead with 2:12 left in the third. Penn State closed the third with a Hackenberg pass to Eugene Lewis to make it 21-14 Boston College entering the fourth.

In the fourth, at the around the 7:00 mark, Penn State appeared to tie it as Akeel Lynch ran one to the goal line from 35 yards out. He was tackled at the goal line, and it looked like he landed in the end zone, but he was ruled down at the one, and a replay upheld it. Lynch tried to run it in from the one, but was stopped, and Brian Gala was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, so Penn State was pushed back to the 16-yard line. Hackenberg fired a bullet to DaeSean Hamilton for a touchdown to tie the game at 21.

Boston College got the ball back, and went on an 11-play, 69-yard drive resulting in a Mike Knoll field goal from 20 yards out to make it 24-21 Boston College with 2:10 remaining. Penn State had plenty of time and one timeout remaining, and they marched down the field and tied it at 24 on a Sam Ficken field goal from 45 yards out and just 20 seconds left. When Boston College got the ball back at their 22 yard line, they chose to take a knee, not run a play and let the game go to overtime.

In overtime, Murphy found David Dudeck for a touchdown from 21 yards out to make it 30-24 Boston College. Mike Knoll missed the extra point, giving Penn State a golden opportunity to win it. Hackenberg found Kyle Carter for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Sam Ficken hit the extra point to lead Penn State to win it 31-30 and start a tremendous celebration.

 

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