Penn State stifles Purdue, 34-9
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Cornerback Stephon Morris called it Penn State's worst practice of the season.
It was so bad that Bill O'Brien didn't stick around for the end of it. The first-year coach and his assistants left Holuba Hall on Monday night in a collective show of disgust, leaving seniors such as Morris to run the last 10 minutes of practice — and work off any lingering hangover from what had happened two days earlier.
“It just seemed like we were still hanging our heads on that Ohio State loss,” Morris said. “We wanted to fight for (O'Brien). We didn't want to show him that we were quitting.”
The Nittany Lions showed their coach something Saturday on a gray, damp day in a stadium that had pretty much emptied before the start of the fourth quarter. Penn State pounded Purdue into submission at Ross-Ade Stadium, piling up more than 500 yards of total offense and keeping the Boilermakers out of the end zone until the final play of the game.
A 34-9 shellacking of free-falling Purdue put Penn State back on the winning track and pointed it in the right direction with a road game looming at Nebraska.
Matt McGloin threw for 321 yards and a pair of scores, and the fifth-year senior engineered three consecutive touchdown drives that bridged the second and third quarters and broke open the game. The only downside of the victory for Penn State was senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill sustained a potentially significant knee injury, though O'Brien is hopeful it isn't serious.
Penn State improved to 6-3 and 4-1 in the Big Ten, and Purdue fell to 3-5, 0-5 in front of an announced crowd of 40,098 that wasn't nearly that large even when it was still a game.
“The players love to play for Penn State and each other and I love to coach them,” O'Brien said after the Nittany Lions improved their conference road record to 3-0.
Penn State's dismantling of a Purdue team that is supposed to be fighting for coach Danny Hope's job unofficially started on Tuesday when the players returned to practice and turned in one of their best sessions of the season.
The seniors and O'Brien kept the team on track from there, even though the storm that pounded parts of Pennsylvana forced the team to practice indoors until Thursday.
And Penn State unleashed its fury against a team that should have been at least as desperate as the Nittany Lions. The offense took some time to get untracked but a defense that played angry kept Purdue from mounting much offense. The Boilemakers finished with 375 yards of total offense but a significant number of those came after Penn State had scored 34 unanswered points.
“We had a lot of steam built up from last week,” strong safety Stephen Obeng-Agyagong said. “We didn't have the outcome we wanted, so we pretty much carried it over and balled out.”
Purdue squandered any chance of pulling the upset that would have snapped a four-game losing streak in the first half.
The Boilermakers started three drives at midfield or better, but they managed only three points.
They scored on the game's opening possession, but that turned out to be a win for Penn State as the defense held after Purdue had a first down on the Nittany Lions' 4.
Penn State's defense overwhelmed Purdue, which explained why the Boilermakers converted just one of 11 times on third down in the first half. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve was hounded repeatedly by a relentless pass rush.
The offense found its stride at the end of the first half, as McGloin needed just five plays and 42 seconds to drive Penn State 55 yards for the touchdown that gave it a commanding lead.
A 31-yard catch-and-run by Brandon Moseby-Felder, who had career highs in catches (six) and receiving yards (129), led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Michael Zordich.
Penn State made it look easy in the third quarter, marching 80 and 75 yards on its first two possessions after halftime.
Each touchdown seemed to heap a little more dirt on Hope's Purdue coaching career while removing the stain left by Penn State's third-quarter implosion in the Ohio State loss.
The eventual victory assured that Penn State will not have a losing season, but O'Brien downplayed that significance outside of the winning locker room afterward.
“We will never accept losing here at Penn State,” O'Brien said. “I think we have a staff of winners and a roster full of winners.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.