UNIVERSITY PARK - It was an unfamiliar situation for a defensive lineman to be in, so tackle Jordan Hill should be forgiven for not following through with an earlier promise.
Hill, anticipating the play, stepped in front of a Rob Bolden screen pass in the first quarter for an interception.
And the 6-foot-1, 298-pound returning starter fell down, tripping over running back Bill Belton.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Penn State cornerback Devin Pryor intercepts a pass for the Blue team.
"I always brag that I'm going to take one and get a touchdown. After the play, they said 'What happened to the touchdown?" Hill said.
"It was fun to watch," defensive end C.J. Olaniyan said. "We've been talking in practice that we were going to get it one day. We got on him about falling down. We told him he should have stayed up and took it back for six."
Whether he stayed upright or not, though, didn't really matter because turnovers in Saturday's Blue-White Game meant just as much as a touchdown in a regular-season game. An incentive-based scoring system was in play for the game in which a turnover netted the defense six points, a sack was four points, a tackle for loss was two points and a three and out was one point.
It was hard to follow for fans, media and the scoreboard operator. At one point, the Penn State sports information staff was debating what the score actually was. For the record, the defense ended up beating the offense, 77-65.
"I like it a lot. We won," Hill said laughing. "You never want to complain when you get a victory like that. It's definitely fun seeing that much points on the board. You don't see that in football at all."
"It's a good point system, especially since we won," said sophomore safety Adrian Amos, who also intercepted Bolden. "It makes it more competitive. We can get points too just like they can."
The defense, which at one point trailed, we think, 31-12, certainly took advantage of the system by intercepting five passes by five different players. Redshirt sophomore cornerbacks Devin Pryor and Jesse Della Valle and redshirt freshman linebacker Ben Kline also picked off passes. In all, the interceptions gave the defense 36 points.
Amos, who has made the move to safety from cornerback, played in 12 of the 13 games last season and made one start. He had been hampered by a lingering groin injury.
"It felt good getting back in the swing of things and coming back from the injury in the spring," Amos said.
Cornerback Stephon Morris was given the Jim O'Hora Award, given to the defensive player who best demonstrated exemplary conduct, loyalty, interest, attitude and improvement during spring practice. Hill was given the award last year. Oddly enough, Morris didn't have an interception.
"They didn't throw the ball to my side," he said.
The defense also had eight sacks. The quarterbacks weren't allowed to get hit, so any time defensive players were close, they'd get a sack. Olaniyan, a redshirt sophomore from Warren, Mich., sacked Paul Jones on consecutive plays at the end of the first half.
"That felt pretty good," Olaniyan said. "The last one was a miscommunication [in the offensive line] because I came through free and nobody blocked me."
Bolden was picked off three times, and Matt McGloin and Jones one each.
Asked whether it was offense making mistakes or the defense just making plays, McGloin laughed and said, "Any time you have a spring game like this, there's going to be picks. There's going to be good offensive plays, and there's going to be bad offensive plays. We're still getting comfortable with the system. We're going to look at it on film tomorrow and correct."
"There's going to be mistakes because it's the spring, and it's early," Amos said. "I guess we were getting after it a little bit, and we made plays."
Both units said they were using a limited playbook in the game. Ted Roof has stepped into the defensive coordinator position that Tom Bradley held under the late Joe Paterno, and so far, his players are impressed.
"We're falling in love with everything that they're throwing at us," Hill said. "It was hard to pick up at first, but we're learning as time goes on."