Penn State Romps Purdue 34-9
Things are back to normal for the 2012 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Dominant Big Ten road victories have become customary for this team, and today was no different as the Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-1) defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 34-9 (3-6, 0-5) at a quiet and relatively empty Ross-Ade Stadium.
It has certainly been a unique week for Bill O’Brien’s squad to arrive at this point in time. His players admitted that Monday’s practice was a bit sluggish following the disappointing home loss to Ohio State. “It was just flat. We just kind of hung our heads on that loss instead of moving on,” said senior cornerback Stephon Morris.
Combine that with being forced to practice inside for a few days due to Hurricane Sandy, and it had the potential to be a rough week. A talk from some of the seniors made sure things would not spiral out of control and led to a much different practice on Tuesday.
“Once Tuesday came around, we kind of picked our heads up and moved on. It was one of our better practices of the year and kind of felt like a game atmosphere,” explained Morris.
Everything started to settle down as the week went on, but the early stages of today’s game were not what this Nittany Lions team is used to. For the first time all season, the Blue and White allowed points in the first quarter and did not score first as the Boilermakers came away with a field goal on their opening drive.
Things slowly returned to normalcy from there. The offense stalled on its first drive but registered a field goal on the second drive after Deion Barnes forced a fumble that was recovered by Malcolm Willis. Less than two minutes later, the Nittany Lions found the end zone for the first time as Michael Zordich rumbled in from five yards out after Matt McGloin found Brandon Moseby-Felder for a 42-yard completion to set the Nittany Lions up deep in Purdue territory. While the offense went a bit cold from there, the defense was rolling, and ten more points came in a hurry right before halftime with another Sam Ficken field goal and a second Zordich touchdown.
The Nittany Lions had not played their best football, but they led 20-3 and did not let the Boilermakers take advantage of three drives that began at or past midfield. The second half turned into a rout. Following a mediocre first half, McGloin came out firing, finding Jesse James and Moseby Felder for touchdowns on the first two drives.
After several failed attempts, Purdue would add a meaningless touchdown on the game’s final play as Caleb TerBush found Antavian Edison for a 2-yard reception, but the game was over long before that. After it officially concluded, O’Brien also admitted that Monday’s practice left more to be desired and gave credit to his seniors for getting things turned around. “It is a very fun team to coach. These are great kids, and they play hard. Obviously I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but we will never accept losing at Penn State,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien praising his team and specifically his senior class is nothing new, but it is becoming even clearer that a special type of trust has developed within and around his squad. McGloin is confident that he can put a ball up for grabs deep down the sideline knowing Allen Robinson has a good chance to come down with it. Robinson has provided Moseby-Felder with confidence playing alongside him at the receiver position. O’Brien has faith in his quarterback to call for a play-action pass on 4th and 1 even if it does not work. On the defensive side of the ball, Barnes knows how big of a loss a potential injury to Jordan Hill would be but at the same time trusts James Terry to step in and fill a void if needed.
“He has a bright future. If it is something bad, let’s do this for him,” said Barnes.
How about a bit tougher of a challenge? Rebuilding Ficken’s confidence who has now made five of his last six field goals after missing four against Virginia. “We’re all teammates. We told him to keep his head up, and he’s doing a great job now. We all rallied around him,” said Barnes.
The formation of trust works in interesting ways, and when it is developed, it can result in players attempting things they might not otherwise try. When combined with preparation and some natural ability, it can lead to three dominant conference road victories by 28, 24, and 25 points respectively. Next week’s final conference road date will be different and tougher than the first three, but the same principles and team cohesiveness will apply.
“Right now my mind is set on Nebraska, and that’s everybody else’s mindset too,” said McGloin.
- Zack Zwinak had a career high 134 rushing yards.
- Brandon Moseby-Felder had a career high 129 receiving yards
- Sam Ficken made two field goals in a game for the first time in his career.
- Gerald Hodges led the way for the defense with 8 tackles including 3 tackles for loss.
- Jesse James has now scored touchdowns in two straight conference road games.
- Matt Zanellato recorded his first career reception in the third quarter.
- Announced attendance was 40,098 although much less were present when that number was announced in the fourth quarter.
- Three quarterbacks saw action for Purdue. Robert Marve started. Rob Henry made a brief appearance, and Caleb TerBush finished the game.
- Bill O’Brien said he would need a few days before he could update the status of Jordan Hill who was diagnosed with a “sprained knee” on an ugly play in the first half.