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Penn State notebook: Nittany Lions to retire Cappelletti's number

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Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Akeel Lynch made the No. 22 proud in his Beaver Stadium debut Saturday. The days of the number making an impact in blue-and-white, however, are numbered.

At halftime of Penn State's 45-7 win against Eastern Michigan, the school announced it will retire No. 22 in honor of John Cappelletti, the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner. He and teammates from the '73 team that went 12-0 were recognized on the field one by one, and Cappelletti — the only Penn State player to be awarded the Heisman — was presented with a framed No. 22 jersey.

After the game, Cappelletti addressed the team.

“It was truly an honor to have John Cappelletti talk to us,” linebacker Glenn Carson said. “We had a stadium tour (during the preseason), and he was one of the guys we focused on.

“He talked about how important it is to have that team camaraderie that we have. He's seen media things we've been on, the ESPN show (“Training Days”), and he's seen the togetherness we have, so he just wanted to let us know how special that is.”

Also worn by, among others, Penn State career rushing leader Evan Royster, No. 22 isn't done yet as a Nittany Lions' active jersey. Lynch wears the number, and the freshman running back had 108 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday.

Lynch was given Cappelletti's blessing to wear the number the remainder of his career.

Cappelletti also presented coach Bill O'Brien with a cap he called a gift from the 1973 team because, “Coach has done such a great job of reaching out to us players from the past, and we're grateful for that.”

Third-down woes

Penn State's offense is averaging 463.5 yards per game — the majority of that coming on first and second downs. The Lions went 1 for 10 on third-down conversions and are 2 for 26 on the season.

“We do stress that in practice, and we'll continue to stress it,” assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said. “It's just a matter of continuing working on what we're doing. ... We're going to get better. Obviously, we need to work on it.”

Penn State has converted all four of its fourth-down conversions this season.

No Hull, Kline

Penn State played the game without two of its more important linebackers, Mike Hull and Ben Kline. Hull did not finish the season-opening win against Syracuse because of a knee injury; Kline's injury was unspecified. Coach Bill O'Brien didn't provide a thorough update on either, saying flatly, “They're fine.”

O'Brien also gave no details on the status of safety Ryan Keiser, who did not play after the first quarter because of injury.

Nittany notes

Tight end Kyle Carter had two receptions for 16 yards a week after suffering a hand injury that prevented him from catching passes in the second half against Syracuse. … Sam Ficken set a Penn State record for consecutive successful field-goal attempts with his 39-yarder in the third quarter. … The announced crowd of 92,863 was almost 15,000 less than capacity.

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