Share This Page

Nebraska edges Penn State, 23-20, in overtime

| Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Nebraska kicker Pat Smith celebrates his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Even with blowing a late lead to get there, Penn State didn't mind its game against Nebraska going into overtime.

Playing beyond regulation at Beaver Stadium has worked that well for the Nittany Lions over the past 12 months.

“We all felt really confident and really comfortable in overtime,” senior linebacker Glenn Carson said. “I think everybody on our team thought we'd get it done.”

This time, Penn State didn't.

Pat Smith's 42-yard field goal capped Nebraska's first possession of overtime and lifted the Cornhuskers to a 23-20 win over the Lions on a brisk Saturday evening at Beaver Stadium.

It was the third Penn State home game this season that went to overtime; four of the past five Big Ten games played at Beaver Stadium have gone past regulation. This was the first of that group that the Lions lost.

Smith, whose 19-yard field goal with 4:29 left tied the game, answered a 37-yard miss by the Nittany Lions' Sam Ficken on the initial possession of overtime. Ficken also missed an extra point late in the first quarter.

Smith had to make the winner twice — his attempted 37-yarder moments earlier went through the uprights but was whistled before it was officially kicked because of a false start penalty.

Last season, Ficken's 37-yard field goal in the first overtime lifted Penn State past Wisconsin in its season finale at home, giving the Lions an 8-4 finish in their first season under coach Bill O'Brien.

O'Brien has made no secret of his affection for the upperclassmen on his first two teams as a college coach — a group that stuck with him and the university after crushing NCAA sanctions were levied during the summer of 2012.

O'Brien repeatedly said how important it was to give the seniors a win in their final home game. It didn't happen this season in a game played in windy conditions with temperatures below freezing and the frequent specter of flurries.

“Final game at Beaver Stadium; it was emotional for all of us,” fullback Pat Zerbe said. “I wish we could have come out with the win today ... everyone's pretty upset. Everyone played as hard as they could, but it just didn't go our way.”

Bill Belton did not play because of illness, so Zach Zwinak carried the bulk of the running-game load for Penn State. Zwinak had 35 carries for 149 yards.

Christian Hackenberg accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and had an interception. He was 16 for 33 for 217 yards.

Big Ten rushing leader Ameer Abdullah had 25 carries for 147 yards for the Cornhuskers (8-3, 5-2), who have beaten the Nittany Lions (6-5, 3-4) during each of the Cornhuskers' three seasons since joining the Big Ten.

Penn State, which had won each of its past five overtime games, appeared poised to have a chance to win it in regulation when it had Nebraska backed up at the 1 and facing a third-and-14 with 1:22 left. But Ron Kellogg III heaved a pass deep down the left sideline intended for Quincy Enunwa that drew a pass interference penalty on Lions cornerback Jordan Lucas.

Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull had stopped Kellogg at the 1 on a third-and-goal with 5:42 left. That forced Smith's tying field goal.

Penn State allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return for the second consecutive game, this time a 99-yard run by Kenny Bell to answer the Lions taking the lead less than five minutes into the second half.

That Lions' touchdown was set up a strip sack, forced fumble and recovery by C.J. Olaniyan at the Nebraska 8. Two plays later, Hackenberg scored on a 7-yard bootleg in which he outran the Cornhuskers' defense to the pylon in the far corner of the end zone to give Penn State a 13-7 lead.

Zwinak had six carries during an eight-play drive that gave Penn State a 6-0 lead with 33 seconds to play in the first quarter. Adam Breneman had a touchdown reception from fellow true freshman Hackenberg for the second game in a row, this one from 2 yards.

But Ficken missed the extra point — his first miss of the season. In a low-scoring/field position-oriented game, the Lions would chase that point the remainder of the chilled evening.

“There's a lot of things we could have done to win the game that we didn't, and we didn't win the game,” cornerback Adrian Amos said. “I honestly didn't even think about if Sam didn't make kicks. It's a team loss; teams lose games, not players.”

Jesse James had a 46-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Hackenberg early in the fourth quarter to give Penn State a 20-17 lead. It was the first time in any of the Lions' losses this season that they had a lead in the fourth quarter.

“We didn't do a good enough job to win the game,” O'Brien said.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cadamski@tribweb.com or on Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.