Staff Picks: Plays We’re Thankful For
It’s Thanksgiving break, which means Penn Staters from all over are home to stuff their faces. While we enjoy the time with our families and their respective secret recipes, we have to take a moment to appreciate those who can’t indulge themselves because of their diets — Penn State student-athletes. In honor of those who are eating carefully portioned meals in preparation for their future games, we picked plays from those same student-athletes that we’re so thankful for.
Patrick Koerbler: Pete Giftopoulos Seals The National Championship
The play I’m most thankful for is Penn State linebacker Pete Giftopoulos’ game-clinching interception of Miami’s Vinny Testaverde in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.
No. 2 Penn State came out and forced No. 1 Miami to make mistake after mistake, and eventually the Nittany Lions found themselves up 14-10 late in the fourth quarter. With just 18 seconds remaining, Miami was on the 13-yard line and faced a fourth-and-goal. Testaverde — the Heisman Trophy winner that season — dropped back and rocketed a pass toward the end zone where it was intercepted by Pete Giftopoulos, securing Penn State’s second National Championship in five years.
Although I wasn’t alive when this play happened, the image of Giftopoulos falling to the ground and the ensuing celebration is something that’s still sketched in my mind. Until Penn State’s next National Championship, I’ll be thankful for moments that this program was built upon.
Here’s a 14-minute highlight reel of the game. Skip to 11:48 for the pick.
Matt Coleman: Casey Bailey Starts The Climb For Penn State Hockey
The play I’m most thankful for comes from the Penn State men’s hockey team during the 2012-13 season, the first season it was a Division I program. In its first-ever game as a Division I program, freshman Casey Bailey scored a goal less than five minutes into the second period which rocketed the Nittany Lions into an upward climb into Division I prominence. Although they may still be climbing to become a top team in the NCAA, that goal gave the Nittany Lions the initial faith that they could actually compete against Division I teams.
Doug Leeson: Scott Conway Blows Pegula’s Roof Off
‘Twas the second night of THON and while I was on press row covering…something (the hours were starting to blend together), Twitter blew up with the hockey beat reporters talking about the team’s freshman phenom scoring a highlight-reel goal. All I saw for a while were 140-character descriptions that I knew weren’t doing it justice. Eventually I found a video and wrote about what is certainly the nicest goal in Pegula Ice Arena history. (Also, I’m calling now that Andrew Sturtz will dethrone Conway’s title with a sick goal of his own this season. And when he does, you better believe I’m linking back to this.)
Ethan Kasales: Tamba Hali And “The Fumble”