07 October 2006

Final: Penn State 28, Minnesota 27 (OT)

My prediction: Penn State 27, Minnesota 14
Final score: Penn State 28, Minnesota 27 (OT)

The teams traded possessions for most of the third quarter and neither team was unable to muster a scoring drive. Penn State dodged a bullet with 3 minutes left in the third quarter when an apparent fumble by Jordan Norwood was overturned on replay. However, the Nittany Lions were unable to capitalize on the advantageous replay when Kevin Kelly missed a field goal.

Minnesota finally put together a scoring drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter and tied it up with a Pinnix 4 yard rushing touchdown.

Tony Hunt almost single-handedly gave Penn State the lead on a lengthy 7+ minute fourth quarter drive (13 plays, 82 yards). Hunt had 9 carries for 60 yards on that drive alone. Morelli found fullback Matt Hahn for a 7 yard touchdown.

The defense was able to get decent pressure on Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito, but the Golden Gophers were able to put together a scoring drive late in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 21-21 and send the game to overtime.

Penn State won the toss and elected to play defense first; Minnesota got the ball and scored a TD but missed the extra point. Penn State struggled to respond, and benefited from a pass interference penalty on Minnesota on a 4th down play. Derrick Williams took the ball to the 2 yard line and Tony Hunt followed with his third touchdown of the game. Kevin Kelly made the crucial extra point to win the game for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State won the total yardage battle (barely) 431-415 but held Minnesota to only 67 rushing yards (a season low).

Despite more changes on the offensive line, Tony Hunt was a bear as usual, running for 144 yards on 31 carries (4.6 yard average), 2 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD. Through six games he is clearly the team's offensive MVP. Hunt came up limping late in the fourth quarter; let's hope any injury is not too serious.

Anthony Morelli was a very respectable 20 for 34 (58.8%) for 281 yards and 2 TDs, and more importantly, no INTs. Overall, a solid and impressive day for the much-maligned quarterback.

Jeremy Kapinos punted 6 times for an impressive 46.2 yard average, even more impressive given the fact that 4 of those punts were inside the 20. Kapinos continues to contribute to Penn State's field position advantage.

If Penn State continues their offensive ineptness in the red zone (and they've shown nothing to prove otherwise), Nittany Lion fans will be disappointed next week. A failed 4th and inches, two missed field goals (one a bad hold and another wide right), and an otherwise inability to convert the important plays (3 for 13 on third downs) might be good enough to pull it out in OT against Minnesota, but won't do against Michigan.

Today was a decent win for the Nittany Lions but disappointing nonetheless as there seems to be no headway made on improving inside the red zone and eliminating mistakes. As is typical, the offense played reasonably well but couldn't overcome the red zone problems. Atypical was the crack in the pass defense that Minnesota exploited--we can expect Tom Bradley will be working on those problems this week in practice.
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