By: C.J. Doon
After two heartbreaking losses to open the season, Penn State finally seems to be back on track.
Penn State continued their 71-year winning streak against Temple, downing the Owls 24-13 in front of 93,680 fans at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions have not lost to Temple since 1941, and are 38-3-1 all-time against the Owls. With Saturday’s win, the Lions improved their record to an even 2-2, with back-to-back home victories.
In the wake of the “unprecedented” sanctions and transfers that have ravaged Penn State football, many experts believed this team would stumble out of the gate.
Senior quarterback Matt McGloin refused to let that happen.
The “Scranton Slinger” threw for a career-high 318 yards and one touchdown, and rushed for another two scores, to lead the Lions’ offense. At the end of week four, McGloin leads the Big Ten in passing yards (1,006), and is tied for the lead in touchdown passes (9) with Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. “I definitely think it was one of the better games of my career,” McGloin said. “Thanks to the fans for the support and we were able to get the win today.”
With 22 seconds remaining in the first half, McGloin sneaked into the endzone behind center Matt Stankievich to give the Nittany Lions their first rushing touchdown of the season, and a 14-3 lead before the half. When asked how he felt about scoring Penn State’s first two rushing touchdowns of the season, McGloin said, “That was something I didn’t expect to do today, but it just happened. That’s the way it played out and it feels good.”
Running back’s Michael Zordich and Zach Zwinak finally found their groove, rushing for a combined 169 yards on 33 carries. Zwinak, a sophomore from Frederick, Maryland, did not find out until late Saturday morning that he was going to play, but was able to step in and carry the load for the Lions. “I think I did pretty well,” Zwinak said. “I owed it a lot to the line. Anybody can run through some of those holes if they open up and as a running back it starts with [the offensive line], so I owe credit to them.”
The Lions’ defense was impressive for the second straight week, allowing only 237 yards, 13 first downs, two field goals, and one touchdown on the afternoon. The only blemish was a 65-yard drive with 1:33 left to play, capped by Matt Brown’s one yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass from quarterback Chris Coyer. Linebackers Michael Mauti, Mike Hull, and Gerald Hodges were all over the field on Saturday, combining for one sack, one forced fumble, and eighteen tackles. Jordan Hill and the rest of Penn State’s front four made Temple’s quarterback Chris Coyer uncomfortable all day, limiting the junior to 164 yards passing, and bringing him down for three sacks.
Penn State was undoubtedly the best team on the field on Saturday, but there a few missed opportunities that the Lions failed to capitalize on. With a 7-0 lead, Penn State drove down to the Temple 12-yard line with 10:29 left to play in the first half, and looked poised to score another touchdown. Matt McGloin threw a quick pass that bounced out of the hands of receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder and ended up in the arms of the Owl’s Tavon Young for an interception. Coach O’Brien commented on the team’s missed opportunities, saying “I felt like we had a productive day but we left a lot of points off the board. We’ve got to clean that up. It starts with coaching. I’ve got to coach it up better.” The Lions were a bit unlucky as well, failing to recover two Temple fumbles, including one inside Temple’s own 17 yard line.
Penalties were a thorn in the side of PSU all afternoon, something very uncharacteristic of the folks in blue and white. The Lions committed nine penalties for a total of 100 yards, including two unsportsmanlike penalties on late hits after the play. Coach O’Brien expressed his displeasure about the penalties, saying “I was disappointed in that on our end. The one thing we pride ourselves on after the first three games was doing a good job of not being penalized. Today, I felt like we took a step back on that. I need to do a better job of coaching those guys.”
The Nittany Lions were not just playing to win a football game against Temple, but to support the victims of child abuse. Saturday was the second annual “Blue Out” game, organized by students and alumni to support victims of child abuse. Blue ribbons, the unifying sign of support for child abuse, were passed out to fans as they flocked towards Beaver Stadium. Thousands of students and fans wore the official “Blue Out” t-shirt, which sports a blue ribbon on the front and the phrase “We Are One Team, One School, One Heart, One Promise” on the back. Proceeds from the “Blue Out” t-shirts sold in downtown State College were given directly to nonprofit organizations to seek and prevent child abuse, including Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania. Money was also collected at the gates of Beaver Stadium by members of PCAR (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape), as people were encouraged to donate their spare change to support the cause. Last season’s first annual “Blue Out” vs. Nebraska collected more than $22,000, according to PCAR Vice President of Communications and Development Kristen Houser.
In the middle of the halftime performance by the Penn State Blue Band, the phrase “Together, we will show the world what Penn State truly represents” flashed across the big screen high above Beaver Stadium. In the midst of all the anger and frustration as a result of the past nine months, it was a cheerful reminder to the Penn State faithful that the bond within the community will never waiver.