Saturday, December 27, 2014

Penn State Defeats Boston College In Dramatic Fashion To Win Pinstripe Bowl

                                                  (AP Photo/York Daily Record, Chris Dunn) 

     Heading into the match up with Boston College, Penn State's Quarterback Christian Hackenberg had 8 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Hackenberg would finish the day with half as many touchdowns (4) than that of which he had all season. After a couple of drives that stalled in Boston College territory, Hackenberg found wide receiver Chris Godwin for a 72 yard touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up 7-0 late in the first. It only took two plays though for Boston College to tie the game back up again when running back Jon Hillman ran 49 yards for a touchdown just after a couple plays prior, Penn State attempted an onsides kick.

    Penn State opened up the 2nd quarter with the ball deep in the Eagles side of the field, but a mishandling of the snap by Hackenberg led to a fumble recovery by Boston College. The second quarter was unproductive for both teams as Penn State and Boston College combined for just 62 yards of offense.

   Boston College would receive the ball first in the second half and came out of the locker room with a big play on the kickoff return all the way to their own 40 yard line. The Eagles capped off the drive when quarterback Tyler Murphy found wide receiver Shakim Phillips near the corner of the end zone to put Boston College up 14-7. Penn State looked as if they were going to answer with a score of their own on the ensuing drive, but a fumble by Hackenberg at the Eagles 29 kept the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard once more. The Eagles continued to build off the momentum, and just four plays later Tyler Murphy called his own number from 40 yards out and ended up in the end zone to extend Boston College's lead to 21-7.

    With the way Penn State's offense had played all season, it seemed that any chance at a comeback was insurmountable. But the Nittany Lions roared back scoring 14 unanswered points. After the Tyler Murphy touchdown, Penn State finished it's ensuing drive when Hackenberg connected with Geno Lewis for a touchdown as time expired in the third to cut the Eagles lead to seven. After a serious of punt exchanges, Penn State's Akeel Lynch ran for a big gain all the way down to the Nittany Lions one yard line. On first and goal, Lynch was stood up and an unsportsmanlike conduct set Penn State back 15 yards with a 2nd & Goal from the 16. But Hackenberg stepped up and found DaeSean Hamilton over the middle for a touchdown, drawing even with Eagles at 21 all.

    Boston College marched down the field and threatened with a chance at a touchdown, but were stopped short at the Penn State 3 yard line and settled for a field goal to put the Eagles up by three with 2:10 remaining. With one timeout remaining, Christian Hackenberg and Penn State ran a hurry up offense and set up Sam Ficken for a field goal attempt on 4th down. Ficken nailed the attempt from 45 yards out right down the middle, sending the game into overtime.

     Penn State won the coin toss and elected to play defense first. Facing a 3rd & 6th, it appeared the Nittany Lions would force the Eagles to settle for a field goal attempt, but Murphy found David Dudeck who eluded from defenders and ran into the end zone to give Boston College a 30-24 lead. However placekicker Mike Knoll missed the PAT, giving Penn State an opportunity to win the game if they were to score on its possession in overtime. After a false start penalty that set the Nittany Lions back five yards and two straight incomplete passes, Penn State was facing 3rd & 15. Hackenberg maintained his poise and found tight end Jesse James for a 17 yard pick up, giving them a fresh set of downs. After two more plays, Penn State was faced with another 3rd down and once again the Nittany Lions struck gold. Hackenberg with a touch pass found tight end Kyle Carter at the corner of the end zone fighting off a defender to haul in the football for a touchdown reception. With the touchdown Sam Ficken just needed to make the extra point to give the Nittany Lions a win in the Pinstripe Bowl and would do so. And what a way to end his career. With all of the hardships Ficken had endured early on in his career, it was a cherry on top of the sundae when he made the extra point to give the Nittany Lions a victory

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