Saturday, October 12, 2013

Penn State Defeats Unbeaten Michigan In Wild 4 Overtime Instant Classic!

     Penn State entered the game coming off arguably one of the teams more disappointing losses in recent memory when they suffered their very first loss at the hands of Indiana for the first time in school history last week in Bloomington. Michigan received the ball first and Penn State's defense forced a quick three and out. Penn State's first possession saw Quarterback Christian Hackenberg throw an interception. On the third play from scrimmage for Michigan following the turnover, QB Devin Gardner was picked off by Jordan Lucas, which helped set up a Christian Hackenberg touchdown(TD) pass to Brandon Felder to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

    Devin Gardner would redeem himself on Michigan's third play of the following position when he connected with Devin Funchess for a 59 yd TD Pass and quickly tie the game back up at 7-7. Michigan Placekicker Brendan Gibbons, who was 4 for 5 on the season, added a field goal to give the Wolverines a 10-7 lead after the first. Anthony Zettel, who has really stepped up as late for the Penn State defense, picked off Gardner at the beginning of the 2nd quarter to give the Nittany Lions the ball. On the very next play, Hackenberg went across the middle for a 20 yard hookup with Jesse James as Penn State reclaimed the lead 14-10 after a 2nd turnover(via interception) by Michigan QB Devin Gardner.

     Penn State's defense continued to apply pressure and limit the Wolverine offense and on their next offensive possession. The Nittany Lions took 10 plays for 61 yards and a TD when Hackenberg again hooked up with Felder to give Penn State a 21-10 lead, one which they would take heading into the half, and on top of the received the ball first in the second half. Penn State looked to be in control of their own fate.

     Just as it looked as if Penn State was getting ready to put this game out of reach, Running Back Zach Zwinak coughed up the ball that allowed Michigan defender James Ross III to scoop up the ball and score a TD for the Wolverines, quickly cutting the lead down to four in a second half that was only 10 seconds old. Placekickers Gibbons and Ficken traded field goals that made it a score of 24-20 in Penn State's favor.

     Michigan found another gear once again and drove the ball down the field in 9 plays for 73 yards in under four minutes, giving the Wolverines a 27-24 lead, their first since midway through the first. The Wolverines outscored the Nittany Lions 17-3 in the third quarter. Penn State had a chance to tie the game early in the fourth, but a bad snap caused Sam Ficken to miss, despite having the distance, the scored remained 27-24 in favor of Michigan.

     The Wolverines appeared to put the dagger in the hearts of the Nittany Lions after Ficken's missed field goal. Devin Gardner found Devin Funchess for a 2nd time for a 37 Yd. Td pass to extend the Wolverines lead to 10 with a 34-24 lead with just a little over half of the 4th quarter remaining.

     Penn State drove down the field again, and would have to settle for a Sam Ficken field goal, despite getting down inside the redzone at the Michigan 18. Ficken's kick cut the lead to a touchdown at 34-27. Michigan would get the ball and essentially burn the clock, taking off 5 minutes and 45 seconds, leaving Penn State with only 50 seconds to work with after a later punt by the Wolverines. The climax to this entire game came in those last 50 seconds!

     Penn State received the ball at its own 20 and had one more shot at sending this game into overtime. Penn State, thanks in part to two crucial reception by Allen Robinson, in which the first was originally ruled incomplete but was overturned and a hell of a catch that was downed at the Michigan 1 yard line! However, with 27 seconds remaining, the Wolverines had a good return on the kickoff and set up shop at their own 35 yd line. The Wolverines moved it 30 yards to give placekicker a 52 yard attempt to win the game in regulation. Gibbons, who had been consistent, kick fell just short and forced the game into over time after both team squander comfortable leads to one another, and the drama was only just beginning!

     Michigan won the coin toss and elected to defer and Penn State received the ball first. The Nittany Lions could not do much with it and only moved the ball two yards. Ficken came in to give Penn State the lead but shockingly missed it. This would allow the Wolverines only needing a Field Goal to win the game. Devin Gardner and company and took a conservative approach and set up between the hash marks for Gibbons. Penn State showed that a victory against the Nittany Lions would not come up easy as a blocked FG forced a 2nd overtime. Gibbons and Ficken would exchange field goals in the 3rd OT, which both of them making it to make it a 37-37 game. Penn State received the ball to start the 3rd OT and on an end around, Allen Robinson lost control of the ball and a Michigan defensive covered the ball, looking to essentially secure the ball for Michigan and allow Gibbons one more chance to redeem himself. Michigan got to the Penn State 16 and looked to be primed to finally give the Wolverines a win. As Lee Corso would say "Not so fast my friend" Gibbons hooked  the 33 yard attempt to the left, add to the already chaotic night and atmosphere to the game as well.

     In the 4th OT, Gibbons finally connected with a 40yd. Field Goal to give the Wolverines a 40-37 lead and needed a stop to persevere a win for Michigan. On Penn State's possession, Bill Belton did a decent job on the ground game and made a pivotal 4th down conversion to keep the Penn State drive alive. Christian Hackenberg found Allen Robinson in the end zone but had defenders hold and jumping all over his back which resulted in a penalty on Michigan and PSU ball at the Wolverines 2 yd line. Very next play, Belton ran to the outside and jogged into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions the upset win over 5-0 #18 ranked Michigan!


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