If you’d please humor me, take a look at that headline again and think back to September 8th. Did you think, on that day, that Sam Ficken would ever kick a game winning field goal, or even a field goal that would go between the uprights for that matter? As strange as it seems, Ficken was a representation of this Nittany Lions 2012 team.
Following an 0-2 start, Ficken was 1-5 on field goals and had missed an extra point. Most of Nittany Nation had lost faith in the young kicker. Though he wouldn’t admit it, head coach Bill O’Brien had lost some faith as well. He began going for it on 4th down when most coaches would just kick the ball. He used rationale about having good plays and executing for the right down and distance and other coach speak.
However, following the Virginia game, Sam Ficken and the Nittany Lions both started to turn things around. Since then, Ficken has missed just 3 field goals total and ended the season making his last 10 in a row. He also missed just 1 more extra point and ended the season making 38 of 40 total PATs.
Today, in the Nittany Lions final game of 2012, Ficken represented the team, one final time. His three field goals, the last of which was the go-ahead field goal in overtime, propelled the Nittany Lions to an overtime win in Beaver Stadium and sent this almost mythical senior class out on a high note.
Allen Robinson went over 1,000 yards for the year as did Zach Zwinak, who ended with a career best 179 yards. However, without Ficken and the faith that he has earned from his head coach since September, we could be talking about an entirely different outcome. Much like a team that was down and ruled out by much of the national pundits, Ficken and his Nittany Lions fought back today and this year en route to success that many didn’t think possible.
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