In The Face Of Adversity, Penn State’s Unheralded Names Step Up
We all know how this story usually ends.
Tasked with marching down the field at the end of the game with no timeouts left, the future began to look bleak. That’s how it always goes. It’s the same on the other side of the ball, too. A miracle storybook ending is a fun thought, but Penn State fans know better. It never ends like that.
Except this time, it did.
This time, Penn State found a way to drive down the field and force overtime. This time, the defense found a way to force a critical turnover and prevent the Golden Gophers from reaching the endzone. Why? I wish I could tell you, because when a team is missing seven linebackers and its leading tackler in Malik Golden, things aren’t supposed to go that way. But this Penn State team believes. These players believe in themselves when nobody else will, and that’s all that’s important.
Players like senior cornerback Jordan Smith, whose career has been quiet to say the least. Not only does he come in and keep the ship afloat, he records his first career interception — one that likely tilted the contest in Penn State’s favor by keeping Minnesota from scoring a touchdown. Because this is a team that believes.”It was an opportunity for me to just step up and make a play,” Smith said. “It let me help the offense go out there and make a play to get us a win. We play for each other each and every week. Our brotherhood and our bond is so strong.”
It’s that unbreakable bond that allows these players to do what they did tonight despite having arguably the least luck of any team in the country when it comes to injuries. These players wanted a win more than anything, and it’s this exact reason why people shouldn’t count out the Nittany Lions just yet.
Sometimes, in situations such as this, words don’t do justice. Words can’t rationalize what occurred in Beaver Stadium tonight. Call it the beauty of sport and the wonderful unpredictability of it all. Of course a healthy Penn State defense might’ve made last week’s blowout loss a tighter contest, and likely would’ve allowed the Lions to avoid overtime altogether. But those are mere hypotheticals. This adversity is real, and it’s likely not going away anytime soon. But after witnessing the resiliency displayed by this team — more specifically, by players like Smith, Manny Bowen, Marcus Allen, etc. — I’m still a believer.
I believe because this team believes in itself. These players know what they’re capable, and slowly but surely we’re watching them find a way to turn ambition into reality.
Penn State faces a much taller task next weekend against a talented Maryland team, but if the Lions can perform like they did tonight, anything is possible.
Crazier things have happened.