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Not your typical Penn State defense, but a win’s a win

Jordan Hill continues to emerge in Penn State's defense. Getty Images

Penn State 23, Purdue 18

Jordan Hill continues to emerge in Penn State’s defense. Getty Images

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State’s defense didn’t have a standout performance, but they made the plays when they needed to. Penn State hung on for a 23-18 victory against a Purdue team that was looking for their first win in Beaver Stadium since Kyle Orton led the Boilermakers to a 20-13 win in 2004.

Purdue managed to put up 344 yards of offense and was the second team all season to score more than ten points against Penn State, with Alabama being the other. As it turned out, Purdue left six points on the field, with a missed field goal, a missed extra point attempt and a failed two-point conversion. Purdue was four-for-four inside the red zone and only allowed one sack to a Penn State defense that has started to gain some national respect.

Penn State struck first on the second drive of the game with Rob Bolden leading the offense. Bolden once started for the seventh time this season but it was Matt McGloin who saw most of the snaps in this game. Bolden went three-and-out on the first possession of the game for Penn State but responded well by driving the team 73 yards in seven plays, with Curtis Dukes capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Purdue quickly moved down field on the ensuing possession but was held to a 28-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs. A 32-yard field goal by Wiggs with under five minutes to play in the first half curt Penn State’s lead to one, but Anthony Fera kicked a 40-yard field goal to end the first half, giving Penn State a 10-6 lead. Linebacker Nate Stupar intercepted a pass from Purdue’s Robert Marve on a third-and-six from the Purdue 36-yard line to set up the Penn State field goal.

Feras kicked his third field goal of the game with 5:57 to play in the third quarter but Purdue responded quickly, thanks to a 71-yard kickoff return by Raheem Mostert. Penn State’s Stephfon Morris got one last effort push on Mostert to nudge him out of bounds, otherwise he would have scored. It took Purdue four plays to get in to the end zone, with Caleb TerBushthrowing a strike to O.J. Ross between a couple of Penn State defenders, but a missed extra point prevented the Boilermakers from tying the game. Wiggs followed his missed extra point attempt by kicking the football out of bounds on the kickoff on a drive Penn State’s Silas Redd scored the eventual game-winning touchdown to keep Purdue at an arm’s length the rest of the way.

Purdue had one last scare in them when Akeem Shavers scored from one-yard out to cap an eight-play, 45 yard drive that was set-up by a miraculous, if not bizarre, interception return by Albert Evans. With Penn State on Purdue’s 23-yard line, following a spectacular one-handed grab by Justin Brown from McGloin, McGloin forced a pass in to double coverage in the end zone (intended for Bill Belton). The football was tipped by Belton and his defender, bounced in the air and fell in to the open arms of Evans, who ran down the sideline for 55 yards. McGloin looked to give up on the play, throwing his arms in frustration during the play. It was his second interception in the end zone in the past two games.

Purdue seemed to have the momentum swinging their way but TerBush could not find room to work with on a two-point conversion attempt as Penn State’s defense closed in on him and secured victory early in the fourth quarter. From there it was up to the special teams (Fera kicked a field goal and landed a punt at Purdue’s own two-yard line) and the defense (one three-and-out and one turnover on downs on four plays) to finish things up.

What does it mean?

Penn State moves to 6-1 on the year, making them bowl eligible a few weeks faster than last season. Penn State is also 3-0 in Big Ten play, putting them in good position in the conference as the second half of the season gets underway. The final stretch will be tough, with games against Nebraska and Wisconsin and Ohio State in the middle. A game against Illinois also looks to be a tough hurdle to jump with the Illini entering this weekend with an undefeated record as they take on Ohio State.

Anthony Fera hit a career long field goal, from 40 yards.

Penn State’s defense gave up the longest pass and longest run of the season. Purdue quarterback TerBush’s 50-yard pass to Justin Siller saw the receiver cut through the middle of the defense across the field and dash down field. It was also Purdue’s longest pass of the season. Purdue running back Ralph Bolden (no relation to Penn State’s quarterback) had a 39-yard run.

Player of the Game

Silas Redd. Getty Images.

RB Silas Redd, Penn State
131 yards, 1 TD

Silas Redd said after the game “I’m feeling pretty good,” when asked about finding a groove this season. Penn State’s running back rushed for over 100 games for the third straight week, and the fourth time this season and he scored his first touchdown since a week three game at Temple.

“I was tired of people saying we can’t score touchdowns,” joked Redd when asked about stretching in to the end zone for his third quarter score. Redd’s touchdown gave Penn State a 20-18 lead, and would turn out to be the game-winning score.

What’s Next?

Penn State hits the road next week for their only primetime game of the season. Penn State travels to Northwestern for a 7p.m. kickoff to be televised on the Big Ten Network. It is the only game Penn State will play in prime time this season but it will be Northwestern’s third straight night game after hosting Michigan last week and playing at Iowa this weekend. The Wildcats entered the weekend with a record of 2-3 (0-2 in the Big Ten).

Purdue will host Illinois next weekend. The Illini hosted Ohio State this weekend, with the game getting underway shortly after the conclusion of the Penn State-Purdue game.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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Drew Brees was in the NFL in '04. Plus, he never beat Penn State.