Black Knights prove more formidable than expected; Penn State secures a shaky win, 20-14

Black Knights prove more formidable than expected; Penn State secures a shaky win, 20-14

A cold, rainy morning coupled with sub-par game attendance was a dangerous combination for the Nittany Lions this past Saturday. Army’s squad came out ready to play, and Penn State struggled to gain a solid lead for the entire game. Many sports analysts predicted that Penn State would be victorious by at least 25 points. Instead, thanks to sheer determination and a strong defense, Penn State was able to claim the win by a mere six points, 20-14.

Immediately following kickoff, it was apparent that Saturday’s game would be somewhat of a struggle. Making ten of 19 passing attempts, junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) was unable to complete his first three passing attempts to redshirt freshman running back Nick Scott (Fairfax, N.J.).

However, Hackenberg was able to perform when the pressure was on, passing for a total of 156 yards. Hackenberg’s key pass to Scott allowed the running back to single-handedly run the ball into the end zone for a spectacular touchdown. Likewise, sophomore tight end Mike Geisicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) cinched his first career touchdown thanks to intelligent positioning and stellar timing. The dark horse of the Nittany Lions, redshirt freshman kicker Joey Julius (Hummelstown, Pa.) kicked two field goals for the squad, resulting in a 20 point game.

Army’s triple option offense proved to be more of a challenge than anticipated for Penn State. Second string senior quarterback A.J. Schurr (Libertyville, Ill.) ran the ball multiple times, rarely opting to drop back to pass. Schurr scored a touchdown of his own and completed another 32-yard pass to give Army a total of 14 points.

It is no secret that this was a tough game for Penn State. During the players’ post-game press conference, the word coming out of most mouths was “inconsistent.” The players agreed. Sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.) noted that the offense still has more to work on.

“We need to take the time to put in the work so we can execute throughout the game.”

Hackenberg agreed.

“I thought was a little inconsistent at times. We hurt ourselves with penalties, put ourselves in situations that weren’t favorable.”

However, Hackenberg, a positive player, commended his team on stepping up the level of play at varying points in the game.

“I thought we executed pretty well when we needed to and made plays when we needed to.”

As usual, the defense held strong during a difficult game.

“I think it was awesome that was on us… so that our offense could run their format and run the clock out. Being able to get that stop on fourth down was just awesome,” said sophomore linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J.).

Cabinda has lately gained positive attention for his intuitive and powerful tackles. He has been identified as an empowering leader on defense by many of the coaches, including defensive line coach Sean Spencer.

After the game, Head Coach James Franklin faced an onslaught of negativity from the media. As dignified and respectful as ever, Franklin delivered a set of inspirational and motivating quotes.

“Do we need to get better? Yes. But can ask me every question in the book and try to get me to be negative, I’m not gonna do it… Gotta get better! I know it, the fans know it.”

Franklin also reinforced his mantra of “educate, dominate, graduate.”

making sure our guys go to school, get an education, make great choices in the community, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to come in here and I’m going to be positive.”

There you have it, Penn State. A relentlessly faithful and positive coach who is aware of the team’s issues but is dedicated to fixing them. While some may claim that this Military Appreciation Day was a bust, the respect and honor shown by both teams is undeniable. From a spectacular halftime show by the Blue Band, to numerous student section chants of “USA,” Saturday was about more than point spreads. It was about respecting those who choose to serve our country.

Looking forward to next week, the Nittany Lions take on Indiana at home for a noon kickoff. If the offense can take it up one more notch, this will undoutedly be a homecoming to remember.

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