Nebraska-Penn State highlights, lowlights
UNIVERSITY PARK – Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 23-20 loss to Nebraska in overtime on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:
Play of the game: After Penn State took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter, Nebraska’s Kenny Bell returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and a 14-13 lead.
Offensive player of the game: Let’s go outside the box here and select Cornhusker punter Sam Foltz, who averaged 46.0 yards on eight punts, had four over 50 and put four inside the 20.
Defensive player of the game: Penn State linebacker Mike Hull made nine tackles, including teaming with Brandon Bell to stop Nebraska QB Ron Kellogg III, who had a head of steam, at the PSU 2, which forced Nebraska to kick a game-tying field goal (20-20) with 4:27 left in regulation.
Most telling statistic: The teams combined to convert just 5-of-31 third downs.
Best run: Nebraska tailback Ameer Abdullah was kept in reasonable check until his 50-yarder in the fourth quarter set up the game-tying field goal.
Best pass: Kellogg came off the bench early, and his slant to Quincy Enunwa turned into a 27-yard touchdown that gave Nebraska a 7-6 lead with 13:14 left in the second quarter.
Worst pass: With the Nits down 7-6, Christian Hackenberg overthrew an open Allen Robinson deep in the second quarter.
Best catch: Robinson made a nice adjustment to reel in a 43-yarder, out of the Lions’ own end zone, in the third quarter. Credit Husker corner Ciante Evans for his leaping interception at the sideline as well.
Catch it, will ya: The cold day was tough on the receivers as Brandon Felder, Kyle Carter, Geno Lewis and Jesse James each dropped one. Carter’s at the Nebraska 40 hurt a Lions’ late drive in the first half. Robinson got in the act in the fourth quarter with a third-down drop at midfield that forced a punt after the Lions had taken a 20-17 lead.
Hold it, won’t ya: Abdullah was on his way into the end zone with the Huskers leading 7-6 when he coughed it up at the PSU goal line.
Best block: Adam Breneman helped spring James’ 46-yard touchdown catch-and-run that gave Penn State a 20-17 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Best tackle: C.J. Olaniyan sacked Kellogg in the third quarter and caused a fumble that Olaniyan recovered at the Cornhuskers’ 8-yard line, setting up the Lions’ go-ahead score (13-7).
Best hit: Nebraska safety LeRoy Alexander drilled Zach Zwinak after the latter’s 11-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
Worst tackle: Bo Pellini couldn’t have been too pleased that safety Corey Cooper, who was in perfect position, couldn’t at least get James out of bounds on the Lions’ last TD.
Best kick: Foltz uncorked a 52-yard punt that checked up and was downed at the Penn State 1 with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter.
Worst kick: Sam Ficken clanked an extra point off the right upright after the Lions took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter. He had made it, Nebraska would have needed a touchdown in the fourth quarter, rather than being able to force OT with a short FG.
Best call: On second-and-goal from the Nebraska 7, trailing 7-6, Bill O’Brien dialed up a play-action bootleg for Hackenberg, who ran around the right side untouched for a 13-7 lead with 10:29 left in the third quarter.
Worst call: Leading 20-17, with Zwinak running hard (three straight runs for 21 yards) and Nebraska’s defense on its heels, the Lions faced second-and-5 from their 45. Instead of staying with the run, particularly on second down, they threw two incompletions (one a Robinson drop for a first down) and punted.
Worst penalty: There were definitely questionable calls so we’ll pick Nebraska’s false start in overtime that made kicker Pat Smith kick a 42-yarder to win the game. He made it, too.
Best effort: Lion freshman linebacker Brandon Bell, in his most extensive action of the season, made six tackles and forced a fumble.
Unsung hero: In place of starter Tommy Armstrong Jr., Kellogg completed 20-of-34 for 191 yards, one TD and no picks.