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PSU rolls in bounce-back game

November 4, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Penn State's defense calls it "sudden change," and it describes not just what took place on the field Saturday, but also what happened to the entire team during the past week.

"That loss last week [to Ohio State], that hurt," PSU cornerback Stephon Morris said. "So we definitely wanted to get back on the sweeter side of things."

Monday's practice, however, was the worst of the season for the Nittany Lions. Everyone was down, and the team easily could have spiraled into letdown mode against Purdue.

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"It was the first practice of the year where things didn't go too well," Morris said.

Then came a sudden change on Tuesday.

"Any time you get a loss to Ohio State like that, a tough loss, it takes you a few days to get over it," quarterback Matt McGloin said. "But Coach [Bill] O'Brien gave us a nice talk, the seniors gave a nice talk just about staying focused. ... We did that Tuesday all the way up through today."

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Penn State’s Brandon Moseby-Felder lands on his head after making a catch and getting tackled by Purdue’s Ricardo Allen on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Lions regrouped in a big way, bouncing back from their tough loss to throttle Purdue, 34-9, before a small crowd of 40,098 at Ross-Ade Stadium.

"It just shows that we don't really care what happens in the past," said McGloin, who had his second straight 300-yard passing game. "We don't focus on losses. We focus on the task at hand, and that was beating Purdue today."

Penn State (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) put together a balanced effort, playing sharp on both sides of the ball, and coasted after getting up 20-3 at the half. The Lions scored TDs on their first two possessions in the second half, further crushing the spirits of a Boilermakers (3-6, 0-5) team that lost its fifth in a row.

O'Brien repeatedly said throughout the week that his team had moved on from the Ohio State loss, and it clearly showed against Purdue.

"You have to put that loss to bed," the coach said. "You have to learn from it, but you have to bury it."

Penn State's defense buried Purdue's hopes early, as time and again it shut down the Boilermakers after they had taken over in good field position.

"We have a term called 'sudden change,' and we did a great job of sudden change when the ball was either on their plus-50 [or close to it]," Lion defensive end Deion Barnes said.

Of Purdue's first seven drives, three started at midfield, one at the Boilermaker 48 and the other at the 41. And they managed to score only three points.

The Lion defense quickly changed momentum by repeatedly preventing the Boilermakers from doing anything with that good field position and getting the ball back so the PSU offense could kick into gear.

Barnes said the defense's performance helped the offense relax more.

"They're thinking like whatever we do, our defense is still going to be able to stop them, so we can still get into our playbook and do what they know how to do," Barnes said.

Purdue took the opening kickoff and drove for a field goal - becoming the first team to score in the first quarter against PSU all season - but the Lion defense established control of the game after that by shutting down the Boilermakers despite their good field position.

"I put them in some tough spots there going for it a couple times, and it didn't work out great," O'Brien said. "But [the defense] did, they bowed up, they played well, they ran to the football, they played with a lot of energy, and they've done that pretty much all year."

Purdue had allowed 39.2 points over its past five games, so once the Lions had control on defense, it was just a matter of time before their offense would start to pile it on.

Penn State got a 27-yard field goal from Sam Ficken on its second series, then took the lead for good the next time it touched the ball thanks to a 42-yard pass from McGloin to Brandon Moseby-Felder. That set up first-and-goal at the 6, and Michael Zordich scored on the next play to make it 10-3.

Another Ficken field goal, from 24 yards, and another Zordich TD, from 5 yards, made it 20-3 at the half. The two quick scores to start the second half came on a 12-yard pass from McGloin to Jesse James and a 41-yard bomb to Moseby-Felder.

McGloin finished 22-of-36 for 321 yards and two TDs, that coming on the heels of his 327-yard effort against Ohio State. His seventh straight game with at least 200 yards passing broke Kerry Collins' school record of six.

"Give him a lot of credit this year," O'Brien said of his quarterback. "You've got to write it: He's had a hell of a year."

Zach Zwinak carried 21 times for a career-high 134 yards, helping balance out Penn State's offense. The Lions finished with 185 yards on the ground and 506 yards overall.

Moseby-Felder also enjoyed a career day with 129 yards receiving on six catches, plus his first touchdown.

"We went out today with the game plan, the mindset like we've got to attack," Moseby-Felder said.

The Lions also had the mindset that they wouldn't be so disappointed after last week that they'd let Ohio State beat them twice.

"We definitely had to come out here and get a win," Morris said. "It was like a must-win situation."

"We know that we can't go undefeated, can't go perfect in the Big Ten," he added. "But our goal is to still have a 9-3 record. That's still a lot of positives."

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