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Penn State Football: The 2014 Season in 50 Photos

The 2014 Penn State football season will forever be one of the most important in Penn State history. We saw great wins, and some not-so-great losses. We celebrated, we laughed, we cried, but most of all, we watched as 128 men represented our University with dignity and pride during a pivotal time.

Here, we present to you “The 2014 Season in 50 Photos,” a compilation of images taken by the Onward State staff that encapsulate the season.

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James Franklin spoke to the media on Media Day on August 4, his first as a Nittany Lion. “We’re obviously very excited. It’s been seven months since we arrived, and we’ve gotten a lot of work done in a short period of time. We’re excited to get going and working with these guys day-in and day-out.”

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Players pose with a young fan on Media Day.

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Penn State opened its season in Dublin, Ireland against Central Florida on August 30. Nittany Lions fans made it their goal to #DominateDublin, outnumbering UCF fans about 20:1 and taking over the town and its local bars.

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Sam Ficken went 4-for-4, including a game winner as time expired, to give Penn State a 26-24 victory. “I’m happy for my teammates,” Ficken said after the game.

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Penn State players celebrate James Franklin’s first win, and a season opening victory in Dublin.

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Nittanyville campers set up their tents early to get prime seats for James Franklin’s first game in Beaver Stadium on September 3.

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This little guy was the most popular Nittanyville camper throughout the year.

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Hundreds of fans lined Curtin Road to greet James Franklin and the Nittany Lions before the team took on Akron on September 6. “Running out of the tunnel, I was in game mode,” Franklin said. “But walking off the bus… I was fighting back tears.”

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James Franklin leads his Nittany Lions onto the Beaver Stadium field for the first time as the head coach of the Penn State football team.

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Christian Hackenberg had a great day — he threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns — as the Nittany Lions defeated Akron 21-3.

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After the NCAA announced the sanctions would be significantly reduced, thousands of students rallied in celebration at Beaver Stadium and in Beaver Canyon on September 8.

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The first non-sanctioned game in more than two years was against Rutgers in Piscataway on September 13. Penn State fans made up a huge part of the crowd in sold-out High Point Solutions Stadium.

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Senior quarterback Gary Nova came into the game hoping to make a statement to the rest of the Big Ten, but the Nittany Lions’ defense forced five interceptions out of the senior quarterback. Trevor Williams grabbed two picks, earning him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.

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New Jersey native Bill Belton scored the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left to give the Nittany Lions a 13-10 win. The win was extra special for Belton, who gave one of the most famous quotes in the renewed rivalry: “I wanted to play big time college football, so I came to Penn State.”

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“WE ARE!!!”

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The Nittany Lions returned home the next week to take on UMass on September 20. Bill Belton continued his momentum from the previous week, rushing for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Penn State rushed for 228 yards and five touchdowns as a team against the Minutemen.

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Sam Ficken went a perfect 8-for-8 on the day: 2-for-2 on field goals, and 6-for-6 on extra points.

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This was a common sight throughout the day, as the Nittany Lions smoked UMass 48-7. The 4-0 start was the team’s first since 2008.

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Penn State celebrated Homecoming during the next week’s game against Northwestern on September 27. The traditional pink-and-black S-Zone made its usual appearance…

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… but the names on the back of Penn State’s jerseys didn’t. It was revealed a few hours before the game that the names were removed for the Homecoming game to honor past teams and past traditions.

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Similar to their jersey’s nameplates, the Nittany Lions didn’t show up in Beaver Stadium on Homecoming Saturday. Penn State gained just 50 yards on the ground, and committed two turnovers.

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Over 102,000 fans packed into Beaver Stadium, but after watching the Nittany Lions implode, most of them left looking like this. The Wildcats beat Penn State 29-6, handing James Franklin his first loss as head coach in Happy Valley. “We will get this fixed. I promise you and guarantee you that,” Franklin said after the game.

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After a bye week, Penn State made the trip to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the Big House for the first time since 2009. The two teams played “Under the Lights” on October 11; it was only the third night game in the history of Michigan Stadium, and the first to feature a Big Ten opponent. Michigan also wore special jerseys for the game.

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DaeSean Hamilton caught his first career touchdown in the second quarter, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t really muster any more offense after that. Penn State only gained 214 total yards and went an abysmal 0-3 on fourth-down conversions at the end of the game, and the Wolverines walked away with an 18-13 win.

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A season-high 812 students camped out in Nittanyville for its annual weeklong campout leading up to the prime-time matchup with Ohio State. Tents went up on Monday, October 20.

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The Ohio State game on October 25 was sold out, marking the first time in James Franklin’s tenure that #107kStrong packed Beaver Stadium.

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Running back Zach Zwinak suffered a broken leg on the opening kickoff, and was carted off the field. This was the last game the senior would play in a Nittany Lion uniform.

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The Penn State defense played its best game of the year against the Buckeyes. It held the high-powered offense to just 17 points in regulation, and picked off Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett twice. The first interception was a pick-six by Anthony Zettel, who took it 40 yards to put the Nittany Lions on the board in arguably the loudest moment in Beaver Stadium in 2014. The second one was by Mike Hull, who also added a career-high 19 (!!) tackles.

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Saeed Blacknall caught his first career touchdown to bring the Nittany Lions within three points. The acrobatic catch was No. 6 on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the weekend.

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Sam Ficken added this 31-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17-all and force overtime.

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Unfortunately, this photo could have happened multiple times. Countless missed calls contributed to at least 10 points for the Buckeyes, and the Nittany Lions fell 31-24 to Ohio State in double overtime. “I’d love to come in here and tell you what I really think [about the officiating],” said James Franklin. “But that wouldn’t be appropriate.” The Big Ten released a statement after the game essentially apologizing for the gaffes.

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After falling to Ohio State the week before, the Nittany Lions looked to regain their mojo versus a motivated, and extremely classy, Maryland team on November 1. Jesse James caught his third touchdown of the year to put Penn State ahead by nine points in the third quarter.

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The defense continued its stellar play, holding the Terrapins to just 192 yards of total offense. Unfortunately, the Penn State offense didn’t fare much better. The unit only gained 219 total yards and turned the ball over four times.

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James Franklin embraced Maryland quarterback CJ Brown, who he recruited when he was a coach at Maryland. Brown and the Terrapins handed Penn State its fourth straight loss, a 20-19 setback that was decided in the final minute. Despite the loss, Franklin remained positive after the game, saying, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

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A small but dedicated group of Penn State fans made the trip to Bloomington, Indiana, to see the Nittany Lions take on the Hoosiers on November 8.

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After Christian Hackenberg threw a pick-six on the previous play to give Indiana the lead, Bill Belton rushed for a Penn State-record 92 yard touchdown to tie the game. “The line did a great job on that play,” said Belton. “Once I got through there, there was no one in the middle of the field. It was just intuition.”

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Mike Hull and the defense, yet again, kept Penn State in the game. The defense pitched a shutout — the only time Indiana scored was a pick-six — and gave up just 221 yards.

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James Franklin gave Bill Belton a hug after his record-setting touchdown. “I was willing him into the end zone,” said James Franklin after the game. “I’ve never seen a run like that when guys are on his back for the whole 92 yards.” The Nittany Lions defeated Indiana 13-7 and snapped their four-game losing streak.

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For the ensuing game against Temple on November 15, Nittanyville made a special banner for one of Penn State’s famous alums, “Hingle McCringleberry,” of Key and Peele fame.

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Mike Hull and the Penn State defense forced five second-half turnovers: four interceptions (one each by Adrian Amos, Jesse Della Valle, Grant Haley, and Christian Campbell) and a fumble recovery by Austin Johnson.

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Akeel Lynch picked up 130 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Owls, and the Nittany Lions rushed for a season-high 254 yards on the day. 1622063_10153449816195663_3960859678713749943_n

Haley’s interception was the first of the freshman’s career, and he returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. “I like freshmen that come in and make plays for us,” said James Franklin after the game. “We’re going to play guys who prepare themselves physically and mentally.”

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The Nittany Lions defeated Temple 30-13. With its sixth win of the year, Penn State clinched bowl eligibility. Brandon Bell practices his technique, because he knows his team is going “bowling” for the first time since 2011.

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Riding a two-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions entered Champaign, Illinois on November 22 with thoughts of beating the lowly Illini.

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The Illinois student section was out in full force. Penn State couldn’t overcome its second-half mistakes, and the Nittany Lions fell to Tim Beckman and the Illini 16-14. “I didn’t do a good enough job,” said James Franklin after the game. “We’ve probably been asking for this all year long with the way we’ve been playing, and it finally caught up to us.”

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“This is just one of those things you learn from,” said a dejected Christian Hackenberg after the game. Hackenberg was 8-for-16 for just 93 yards in the loss.

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Penn State celebrated its seniors before the final game of the year on November 29. It was an emotional time for Zach Zwinak, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Sam Ficken, and others, who were playing in their final game in Beaver Stadium as members of the Nittany Lion football team.

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The University also celebrated the career of Dr. O. Richard Bundy, who made his final appearance as director of the Penn State Blue Band. Bundy has overseen the Blue Band since 1996, and leaves behind a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten.

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Akeel Lynch powers his way through to the end zone for a Nittany Lion touchdown against Michigan State. This would be the last touchdown in Beaver Stadium in 2014.

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The offense didn’t have a successful day against a relentless Spartan defense. The Nittany Lions only gained 233 total yards, and fell to Michigan State 34-10. Despite the loss that dropped Penn State to 6-6, Christian Hackenberg remained optimistic after the game. “I learned a lot,” he said. “It’s not over yet, we’ve got one more game, [it’s a] great opportunity to get another one for the seniors.”

All photos by Onward State’s staff: Bobby Chen, Hannah Byrne, Zach Berger, Jen Hudson, Katie Fiorillo, Dana Lipshutz, and Kevin Horne. 

About the Author

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson was Onward State's Acting Managing Editor/Resident Old Man. He lived in Harrisburg almost his whole life, but he says he's from California -- where he was born -- because that's more fun. He loves cats and Chinese food, but only separately. He met both Ben Affleck and Kanye West within a half hour, so the three of them are basically best friends. If you want to hear his #scorching #hot #takes, you can follow him at @ARobinsonPSU or email him at [email protected]

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