NCAA Game Summary - Nebraska at Penn State|
(Saturday, November 12th)
Final Score: (19) Nebraska 17, (12) Penn State 14
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - In the midst of everything, a game.
What began Saturday with dozens of players from both teams kneeling in silent
prayer at midfield, ended with Penn State losing on a luminous afternoon that
was sunny if only for the weather until a spirited comeback attempt that fell
In between, the implausible task of playing football in unimaginable turmoil.
Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah rushed for touchdowns, leading No. 19 Nebraska
to a 17-14 victory over No. 12 Penn State, which played its first game in 46
years without Joe Paterno as head coach as it deals with an ongoing sex-abuse
scandal that has blackened the university's once sterling reputation.
"The whole thing was emotional," said Tom Bradley, the veteran Nittany Lions
defensive coordinator who was named interim head coach after Paterno's firing
The loss came a week after Jerry Sandusky, the longtime Paterno assistant, was
arrested and charged with 40 counts of sexual crimes against young boys.
Four others have lost at least immediate control of their jobs in the scandal,
including ousted university president Graham Spanier and wide receivers coach
Mike McQueary, and Penn State's campus has both rioted and held a candlelight
vigil for the alleged victims.
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was among those who thought, given everything
that happened, that the game shouldn't have been played. Afterward, he said it
gave everyone a bit of perspective.
"This game gave us an opportunity to show that the situation going on is
bigger than football. It is bigger than the football game that was just
played. It is bigger than the young men that played in the game that would
have missed it, had they called it off," Pelini said.
"It's about education and putting things into perspective what the situation
is all about. Hopefully, the fact that both teams sat up and prayed together
put that in perspective a little bit. It's about doing what's right in
society. It's about doing what's right and wrong.
"Trust me, when I tell you, I don't know the specifics of the situation and I
am not judging anybody. But the fact is young kids were hurt and that's a
crime in itself. Like I said, it is a lot bigger than football, the NCAA, the
Big Ten and anything else."
After everything, Penn State faced a 17-0 deficit as it tried to stay unbeaten
in conference play. The Nittany Lions cut it to three points on two touchdown
runs by Stephfon Green in the third and fourth quarters.
Silas Redd was stood up at the line on a 4th-and-1 attempt inside two minutes,
but the Nittany Lions got the ball back again after stopping Burkhead on a
However, Nebraska (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) held on in the final 49 seconds as Penn
State (8-2, 5-1) was left without a timeout and failed to extend its seven-
game winning streak.
Bradley, the first new Nittany Lions head coach since 1966, said he wished the
team could have pulled out a little magic at the end to get a win on Senior
"They didn't quit. They hung tough and hung in there together," he said after
the team's final home game. "I asked them to show class and dignity, and they
did all day today."
Paterno's son, Jay, was on the sideline as quarterbacks coach Saturday while
his father remained at home.
Rather than step aside during the scandal, Joe Paterno wanted to retire at the
end of the season but was fired by the board of trustees instead, leaving with
a 409-136-3 record and big coaching shoes to fill.
In Penn State's last game on October 29, Paterno passed late Grambling State
coach Eddie Robinson for the most coaching wins in Division I history.
So much mattered more this week, of course, but Paterno's first game away in
nearly a half-century was a big one: With a win, the Nittany Lions could have
clinched no worse than a tie for the Big Ten Leaders Division title.
Matt McGloin played the whole game for the first time this season and passed
for 193 yards, but also coughed up a fumble in the third quarter that led to a
Nebraska touchdown for a 17-0 lead. Green rushed for 71.
Anthony Fera was wide right on a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter, a
costly miss for Penn State in what turned out to be a three-point game.
Taylor Martinez threw for 143 yards for Nebraska, which was coming off an
upset loss to Northwestern last week, and Burkhead rushed for 121.
The Cornhuskers scored 10 points in the second quarter on Brett Maher's 41-
yard field goal and Abdullah's two-yard touchdown surge to take the halftime
McGloin's fumble on the sixth play of a drive in the third quarter was picked
up by Nebraska near midfield.
Eight snaps later, Martinez was in trouble as he scrambled right until he
flipped to Burkhead near the sideline, and Burkhead barreled into the end zone
for a 14-yard score and a 17-0 lead.
Penn State replied with its best drive so far, a nine-play effort spanning 82
yards and ending with Green's five-yard run through the line for a touchdown.
Martinez fumbled 5 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter, giving Penn State the
ball at midfield. The Nittany Lions converted a 4th-and-1, then set up their
touchdown with an inspired trick play.
After taking the snap, McGloin tossed to Green and broke for the left
sideline. Green flipped to wide receiver Curtis Drake, who hit McGloin for a
16-yard pass on the left side.
On the next play, Green rushed the remaining six yards for a touchdown to pull
Penn State within 17-14.
Penn State's last two regular season games are on the road against Ohio State
and Wisconsin. New Penn State president Rodney Erickson said Saturday there's
no reason the team shouldn't be allowed to play in a bowl game...Nebraska
evened the all-time series 7-7. It was the first meeting between the teams
since 2003 and first as Big Ten foes.
11/12 19:12:13 ET