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Nittany Lions rally to beat Indiana, 31-20.

Submitted by on November 14, 2009No Comment

STATE COLLEGE, PA – On Senior Day in Beaver Stadium it was the senior defensive captain who did not allow his team to lose for a second straight week. Penn State (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten) linebacker Sean Lee lead the way on defense as the Nittany Lions had to crawl back into the game and come from behind to defeat Indiana (4-7, 1-6) by a score of 31-20.

Evan Royster's controversial touchdown tied the game for Penn state.
Evan Royster's controversial touchdown tied the game for Penn state.

Things did not start smoothly for Penn State. The underdog Hoosiers drove the opening possession for 12 plays and 59 yards but were kept to just a field goal of 27 yards. On the drive, which started at their own 31 yard line, Indiana had eight of their plays take place on the Penn State side of midfield. On Penn State’s first possession of the game, Daryll Clark was intercepted by Matt Mayberry on a tipped pass on the third play from scrimmage. Indiana took over in Penn State territory and they took advantage of the opportunity.

Penn State’s defense held the Hoosiers to a 4th and one, but Indiana rushed two yards to pick up the first down at the Penn State 34 yard line. Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell threw for a 26 yard touchdown pass to receiver Damarlo Belcher. After a video review to see if Belcher had a foot in bounds with possession the play was upheld. The Hoosier found themselves up 10-0 only about ten minutes into the game. Indiana’s Nick Polk ended a promising Penn State drive at the Indiana 13 yard line with an interception of Clark. This time there was no excuse for a tipped pass as Clark had made a poor decision to throw and Polk read it all the way for an easy turnover.

But as has been the case all season for Indiana, the Hoosiers could not find a way to finish off their opponent. The teams exchanged punts on the next few possessions before Penn State finally found a way to get on the scoreboard.  A Collin Wagner field goal of 33 yards cut the Indiana lead to 10-3. Indiana was held to a punt after three plays on the ensuring possession. After Penn State called a timeout with 1:59 to play in the first half Joe Paterno likely figured his team would have good field position and a good amount of time remaining to work another score. But the special teams woes that have plagued Penn State all season came back to haunt them once again. This time it was Graham Zug who fumbled the punt and Indiana’s Trea Burgess fell on the loose ball to give Indiana a second chance. The Hoosiers could not take advantage of the third Penn State turnover of the first half though as Nick Freeland’s 47 yard field goal was missed. Penn State took over at their own 30 yard line.

A third and ten pass from Clark to Brett Brackett picked up 18 yards but the play of the drive came two plays later when freshman Curtis Drake took an end-around for 26 yards and a face mask penalty on Indiana placed the football at the Hoosier 13 yard line. A screen pass to Evan Royster went 13 yards for a controversial touchdown. Penn State lineman Lou Eliades could have been called for a holding penalty on the play. The non-call allowed Royster to get around the first possible tackler. Indiana head coach Bill Lynch was livid on the play to the point where he looked as if he might throw his chewing gum at the official, who had the action right in front of him on the play. The call on the field stood and Penn State somehow managed to reach halftime in a tie game.

The second half started with another special teams scare for Penn State as Zug returned the ball 35 yards and fumbled the ball forward. Penn State’s James Van Fleet fell on the loose ball though to avoid a possible disaster. The Nittany Lions were only able to move 38 yards on ten plays and the drive ended with a field goal attempt by Wagner that clanked off the upright and bounced into the end-zone. But for Penn State this game was more about the defense, and the play of the game was moments away.

Indiana had taken the football from their own 20 yard line to the Penn State 28 in six plays using the short and effective pass scheme from quarterback Ben Chappell. But on 2nd and 7 from the Penn State 28 yard line Chappell was under pressure and threw the ball away in a hurry. Linebacker Navorro Bowman had the ball fall in his hands and he rushed all the way down field the other way for a touchdown to give Penn State the lead. The return went 73 yards, which is shorter than Bowman’s 91 yard fumble return earlier this season.

The game had officially flipped in momentum.

Indiana went three and out on their next possession and Penn State used a methodical drive to round out the third quarter at the Indiana two yard line. Royster took the first play of the fourth quarter the rest of the way for a touchdown to put Penn State up 24-10. The Hoosiers answered with a field goal but Royster and Clark teamed up for a true clock management drive on the ensuing possession. the drive ended with a sneak by Clark for a one yard touchdown play to put Penn state up 31-13.

A late touchdown by Indiana set up the final score of 31-20.

Penn state’s A.J. Wallace left the game with a possible leg injury. Wide receiver Chaz Powell also left the game early with an apparant arm injury. He seen wearing a sling after coming out on Penn State’s first offensive possession. Running back Brandon Beachum left the field at one point as well with an injury.


Making his final start in Beaver Stadium, Sean Lee had a monster performance. While his linebacker partner Navorro bowman had the play of the day, it was Lee’s consistent pursuit of the ball carrier that gave Penn State life as the game went on. Lee finished the game with 11 tackles. In addition Lee broke up three crucial passed against Indiana.

A Lee interception late in the game in the end-zone was wiped out due to a face mask penalty on Penn State. The penalty took place before Lee intercepted the pass and Indiana picked up a first down on the play. Indiana scored on the next play, becoming just the third team this season to score 20 points against Penn State.

In typical Penn State fashion, Lee could be found on the football or near the ball on just about every play.


It means that Penn State appears to be sleep walking through the remainder of the regular season. All season long it has been evident that there is a lack of fire on the roster, whether it be on the field or on the sideline. Nothing can put that theory to the test than the way the Nittany Lions came out in this game.

Indiana appeared to upset minded and ready to play from the start of the game while Penn State entered the game sloppy, evidenced by four first half turnovers, and really played with a lack of intensity all game. If not for the defense Indiana could have made the game a lot closer, and maybe come away with the win.

Special teams for Penn State continues to be a major weakness. Not only were the punt and kick returns a roller coaster ride every time, except for the lone fair catch called by Zug, but Wagner also missed a field goal that clanked off the upright.


Penn State will play their final game of the regular season at Michigan State (6-5, 4-3) for the Land Grant Trophy. The Spartans clinched bowl eligibility Saturday with a win at Purdue (4-7, 3-4) and will return home for the final game of their regular season. Michigan State defeated Penn State in the last meeting in Spartan Stadium in stunning fashion, outscoring Penn State 28-14 in the second half to win 35-31.

Indiana will return home to take on in-state rival Purdue in the Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. Both teams are ineligible for a bowl game so this game will be all about the trophy.

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