Big Ten Honors Sam And Ham

Penn State’s Ficken and Hamilton win conference weekly honors following the Nittany Lions’ opening win over UCF in Dublin.

Senior placekicker Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.) and redshirt freshman wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.) have been honored by the Big Ten Conference for their performances in Penn State’s dramatic 26-24 win over UCF last Saturday in Dublin, Ireland.

Ficken was selected the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time in his career, with one selection in each of the past three seasons. He previously earned the honor after last year’s season opening win over Syracuse in MetLife Stadium and also after the 2012 Senior Day win over Wisconsin, when he hit the game-winning field goal in overtime.

In his first game playing for Coach James Franklin’s Nittany Lions, Hamilton was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week. He shares the honor with J.T. Barrett of Ohio State.

For the second consecutive year, Penn State grabbed the Big Ten Special Teams and Freshman honors following the opening game. In 2013, it was Ficken and eventual conference Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) who were honored after defeating Syracuse. Hackenberg, who broke the school record with 454 passing yards vs. UCF, was the conference’s Freshman of the Week five times last year.

A co-captain, Ficken connected on all four of his field goal attempts in the Croke Park Classic to set a career-high, including the game-winner as time expired.  After UCF took its first lead of the game at 24-23 with 1:13 to play, Hackenberg directed an 8-play, 55-yard drive that lead to Ficken’s game-winning 36-yard field goal on final play of game to commence a jubilant celebration on the field and among the 20,000 Nittany Lion faithful who traveled to Dublin.

The UCF contest was the first four-field goal game of Ficken’s career – he had made three field goals on four other occasions – and were the most field goals by a Penn State kicker since 2010 when Collin Wagner knocked through five attempts against Temple. Ficken is 11th in Penn State history with 34 career field goals, just one shy of Chris Bahr.

Ficken leads the Big Ten in kick scoring (4th overall) and in field goals made (4.0 avg.). The former Valparaiso High School standout also is tied for second nationally in field goals made. 

Having missed the 2013 season with an injury, Hamilton had a spectacular debut performance in Dublin as he broke two Penn State freshman receiving records and played a large role in helping lead Penn State to the thrilling win over UCF, the 2014 Fiesta Bowl winners.

Hamilton’s 11 catches and 165 yards against UCF re-wrote the freshman pass catching standards, eclipsing Deon Butler’s 125-yard effort vs. Wisconsin in 2005 and Maurice Humphrey’s eight catches against Northwestern in 2003. Hamilton became the first Nittany Lion freshman wideout to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game – doing so in the first half  – since Butler and Jordan Norwood both accomplished the feat during the 2005 season.

Hamilton made a 44-yard catch at the UCF two-yard-line to set-up a Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.) touchdown run for a 7-0 first quarter lead.

The former Mountainview High School standout leads the Big Ten in receptions (11.0) and is third in receiving yardage (165.0 ypg). Hamilton ranks ninth and eighth, respectively, in the nation in receptions and receiving yardage.

Hamilton and sophomore wideout Geno Lewis (Wilkes-Barre) became the eighth pair of Penn State teammates to record 100-plus receiving yards in the same game and the first tandem to log 150-plus yards in the same game. The last duo to surpass 100-yards in the same game were Butler and Norwood vs. Michigan State in 2008.

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