Finally! After an opening day let down against Ohio and the kicking game struggles in Charlottesville last week, Penn State (mostly) put it all together in Beaver Stadium with a convincing 34-7 win over the Midshipmen from the Naval Academy.
PSU won the toss, took the ball, and marched down the field in an efficient 7 play, 72 yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a 2 yard touchdown pass from McGloin to TE Jesse James, set up by a 45 yard strike from McGloin to Allen Robinson. After a 3 and out for the Midshipmen, Penn State struck quickly as McGloin again from Robinson on a 45 yard pass that went for 6 points. Navy drove the ball deep into Penn State territory on their next possession, but pressure on the Middies QB Trey Miller forced an ill advised pass that was intercepted by Gerald Hodges.
The Lions took advantage of the turnover, driving 90 yards on 14 plays, capped by another McGloin to Robinson touchdown pass. Struggling kicker Sam Ficken missed the extra point, but it would not matter on this day. The Lions again drove deep into Navy territory late in the first half, but on 4th and goal, Bill O’Brien passed on the short field goal attempt, and McGloin’s pass was broken up to end the threat. O’Brien would tell ESPN at halftime that the decision to go for it was more based on his confidence in the play he called, than it was a vote against Sam Ficken.
PSU’s final 2 scores came on a funky deflection that found its way to Allen Robinson for his 3rd touchdown catch of the day, and a Mike Hull fumble recovery that went 74 yards for a touchdown. Navy scored late against the Lions’ reserve defense to end the shut out, but the game was well in hand.
With Bill Belton and Derek Day both sidelined with injuries, Michael Zordich and Curtis Dukes split the carries. Zordich carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards, while Dukes had 11 for 47. Zordich also had 2 key receptions for 25 yards, both of which went for first downs, as well as several solid plays in pass protection to buy McGloin time.
A very relieved looking Coach O’Brien, fresh off a Gatorade bath as the clock hit 0:00, told the media he “felt very good for this team” and that this win was “in some ways, a long time coming.”
For the first time all season Penn State had put a full 60 minutes together, and took advantage of the chances that for a second straight week their defense gave them. Navy does not have the talent that PSU will see down their schedule, but the first win monkey is finally off their back, and with a struggling Temple team visiting Beaver Stadium next week, PSU can create some momentum prior to hitting the road to open the Big 10 season.
As far as the injuries are concerned, Belton and Day are considered day-to-day with an ankle and shoulder injury respectively. Starting left tackle Donovan Smith, who also missed todays’ game with an injured ankle, is expected back for next Saturday’s game.
Check back with Victory Bell Rings for more post game coverage throughout the weekend.
Follow VBR Staff Writer Matt de Bear on Twitter.