PSU beats Wisconsin in OT, 24-21
College Football Videos
UNIVERSITY PARK — The father whose life has become a daily struggle since suffering a stroke a couple of years ago promised his son that he wouldn't miss his final game at Penn State.
His father, his teammates and his coaches were why Jordan Hill told himself before every defensive series that he would not let Penn State lose on an emotional and blustery day at Beaver Stadium.
“I just felt it wasn't the way to end this book,” Hill said.
Hill followed up on his promise as he dominated Wisconsin while helping the defense overcome a shaky start, and Sam Ficken's 37-yard field goal in overtime proved to be the difference in Penn State's 24-21 win in front of an announced crowd of 93,505.
Penn State's defense couldn't hold a late lead, but it came up big after Ficken made his 10th consecutive field goal, forcing a 45-yard try that Wisconsin kicker Kyle French missed left.
In the fourth quarter and overtime session, Hill totaled eight tackles and three for losses.
Penn State finished 8-4, 6-2 in the Big Ten, giving it a much-needed boost heading into an offseason in which it will again have to deal with the fallout of NCAA sanctions.
Wisconsin dropped to 7-5, 4-4, but it will still represent the Legends Division in the Big Ten Championship game with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play.
“I feel great for the kids, especially the seniors,” coach Bill O'Brien said after notching his first win against a marquee program. “To think we won eight of our last 10 games, it just sounds better than (7-5).”
There was no shortage of reasons as to why Penn State prevailed despite allowing Wisconsin to score a pair of touchdowns in its first eight offensive plays.
Redshirt sophomore Zach Zwinak blasted his way for a career-high 179 yards on 36 carries, and the back who was once buried on the depth chart finished with 1,000 rushing yards in 2012.
Ficken drilled three field goals, including the game-winner that slipped just inside the left goal post.
And the defense adjusted after the Badgers ripped off yardage in chunks while putting together early scoring drives that covered 74 and 53 yards. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof had his tackles and ends line up in wider splits to keep Wisconsin from securing the edges, and it slowed down the Badgers.
Wisconsin managed just 17 yards of offense — Penn State had 146 — in the third quarter when the game turned, and Roof said resiliency had as much to do with the improved defensive play as anything.
“You can't take away a man's heart,” Roof said in reference to the NCAA sanctions that Penn State had to overcome, “and they didn't take away our heart.”
The Badgers came close after quarterback Curt Phillips engineered a late drive that he capped with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Duckworth to send the game into overtime.
Penn State's offense sputtered, but after Ficken's field goal, Hill and his teammates smothered the Badgers.
French couldn't send it into a second overtime, and Beaver Stadium erupted in another celebration for the team that had been immortalized before kickoff.
The victory may not have done much for O'Brien's heart rate, but it seemed fitting the Nittany Lions had to overcome as much adversity as they did to send the seniors out on a winning note.
And it seemed fitting Hill notched two sacks and a career-high 12 tackles — and seemed to play better after he aggravated the knee he sprained earlier this month at Purdue.
The father who braved biting cold to sit in Beaver Stadium has never quit, and there was no way Hill was going to let him down.
Or his teammates and coaches.
“It's just hard to put into words what Jordan Hill has meant to this team,” O'Brien said. “There's nothing bad you can say about him.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Alvarez latest in Pirates’ revolving door at first base
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Arab League gets serious on terrorism
- Pirates pitchers finding success with expanded strike zone
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- Probiotic bacteria help conquer ‘superbugs’
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of a union retiree’s pension
- Man rescued from sinkhole in McKeesport