Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 an Extra Dark Ending Penn State's Final Home Game of Season Ends with an Ot Loss

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 an Extra Dark Ending Penn State's Final Home Game of Season Ends with an Ot Loss

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --

The subject would always flip back to the team's mood. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, who normally wears his emotions under several layers of sleeves, would be talking about something else -- tight ends, for instance -- but he couldn't escape this time, always circling back to the awful feeling that attends this 23-20 overtime loss to Nebraska.

"This," he said, "is a tough night for us."

It was senior night. It was cold and winds were circling and snow was falling. It was as State College of a night as you could ask for, especially because the game went to overtime. Four of the past five games at Beaver Stadium have extended past the fourth quarter. So the night followed a natural pattern, until the end.

When the ball sailed off Nebraska kicker Pat Smith's foot through the uprights Saturday night, pure from 42 yards, something about the picture was off.

Overtime games at Beaver Stadium don't end like this.

Before, they always ended with a Penn State victory. Penn State (6-5, 3-4) won against Wisconsin in the snow last year, against Michigan on some insane receptions in October and against Illinois with a bullet pass to Kyle Carter three weeks ago.

"We'd been there before," offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach said. "We've had a lot of game-winning drives. But we just didn't capitalize."

With 4:30 left in the fourth, Penn State was coming off a defensive possession in which linebackers Mike Hull and Brandon Bell stopped Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III at the 1.

Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) had to settle for a field goal and a tie at 20-20 rather than a go-ahead score.

Here was the opportunity for the offense. Against Michigan and Illinois, the Nittany Lions had responded in similar situations, quarterback Christian Hackenberg showing the poise that belies his freshman status. This time they only got six plays to the Nebraska 37 -- not far enough.

After the defense stalled Nebraska's final opportunity, Penn State got the ball first in overtime.

Three plays and only 5 yards later, kicker Sam Ficken was lined up for a 37-yard field goal with the wind howling. …

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