By Thomas Frank Carr
Penn State took care of business today at Beaver Stadium defeating Purdue 45-21. Penn State fans can all breathe a sigh of releif because that is exactly what they were supposed to do to the hapless Boilermakers who fall to 1-9 (0-6 in Big 10) on the season.
Penn State jumped out to an early lead after putting together back-to-back 10 plus play drives that ended in rushing touchdowns by Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak respectively. Purdue finally showed some life when they connected on a 38 yard pass play from true freshman quarterback Danny Etling to wide receiver Cameron Posey. That propelled Purdue to a touchdown later in the drive on a pass from Etling to tight end Justin Sinz from the two yard line.
It looked as if Purdue was going to jump right back in the game when on the next series Bill Belton fumbled on the Penn State 40 yard line and gave Purdue a short field and a chance to tie the game up. But Bill O’Brien’s team finally put in a full team effort, something that he’s stressed since he took over as head mean in Happy Valley,
“I think they came back and played complimentary football all day meaning they complimented each other you know, they gave up the drive like you said at the beginning of the half and that was tough you know. So you know it was good to them to come back the next drive and bow up. I think that’s within your unit complimenting each other a little bit.”
That complimenting went back and forth throughout the game. Purdue made a game of it at the end of the first half when Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown with 1:04 left in the first half. Purdue then capitalized on deferring the ball in the second half by putting together another scoring drive highlighted by a 45 yard DeAngelo Yancey reception and a 37 yard kick return by Mostert. That made the score 28-21.
After that it was lights out for the Penn State defense. They didn’t allow a single scoring drive after 11:19 in the third quarter. O’Brien was happy with the play of the defense on Saturday,
“I think they play well when they communicate well, which they did today. They got good pressure on the quarterback. We played the run well. I think the defense did a real nice job today.”
Penn State also improved in several areas today that had previously frustrated them, namely red zone scoring and third down efficiency. The Nittany Lions offense was 9 of 11 on third down and a perfect six for six in the first half. They were a perfect seven of seven in the red area and on defense, they allowed only 36% on third down. All of which are marked improvements over the average for the season. One thing that is still ailing the team is turnovers. Fumbles are still a problem for the running backs and for coach O’Brien has never been around something like this,
“It’s frustrating because they’re good players, they’re great kids. They feel bad about it; I feel bad about it, I get frustrated. You don’t want to overemphasize it, because then you have the guy thinking about it all the time but we’ll continue to work with it. We have to stop putting the ball on the ground. That’s the bottom line.”
Overall it was a good win and a good morale booster for the team, fans, and spectators Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions will need it as they close up their home schedule next week on senior day against Nebraska.