Penn State Wins Ugly In Orlando
It may not have been perfect, but Daryll Clark got to solidify his much-discussed legacy at Penn State with a win.
The Nittany Lions won the Capital One Bowl, 19-17, closing out what could have widely considered been a disappointing ten win season. The victory over No. 12 ranked LSU was certainly not the squad’s best play of the season – a 13 point lead in the third quarter quickly turned into a one point deficit – but it was the its first win over a ranked opponent.
During a six minute-plus, 65 yard drive to take the lead with just over a minute left, it was fitting that Clark, the co-offensive MVP of the Big Ten this year, carried the ball himself in the red zone. The less than spectacular series set up a chip shot field goal for kicker Colin Wagner, who made four of four short field goals in the game.
It certainly wasn’t the dominant finish anyone had hoped for – the Lions were very fortunate to have a turnover margin of +3, given early struggles in snaps between Clark and Center Stefan Wisnewski and at least four near-interceptions dropped by LSU defensive backs – but it was a win over a worthy opponent. The Penn State defense held LSU to a mere 43 rushing yards, and more importantly, special teams did just enough to prevent returner Trindon Holliday from breaking open the game.
Fans of every bowl-bound team envision a thrilling finish to the postseason, with a defining play to serve as an exclamation point to the twelve games that preceded it. This game didn’t have that. It was a muddy, error-filled knock-down, drag-out bout between two slow-starting national powers. The end of the game was marred by questionable penalties – whether it was the illegal shift at the goal line that looked like an offside infraction or the bizarre skirmish as the Tigers attempted to wrestle back the lead with less than a minute left, it didn’t feel like an iconic end cap to the season.
However, it was the best we could ask for. Senior TE Andrew Quarless, who had almost sidelined himself with off-the field incidents last year, had a career 8 receptions for 88 yards. QB Clark went out on a high note with one touchdown and no interceptions. A.J. Wallace – whose career in Happy Valley has been up and down – made a key interception before the half. It was a game for redemption. Not picture-perfect, fairytale heroics, but redemption for a team that has been considered to be on the cusp of greatness.
No, it wasn’t pretty. But Penn State football finally did what we all knew they were capable of – winning when it matters.