Offense Pulls Away From Defense in LFL 2015

Penn State’s annual charity event is expected to raise more than $100,000 for the fight against kidney cancer. You can also check out Tarow Barney’s strong performance in the bench press.


The defense got an amazing performance from tackle Tarow Barney in the bench press. The offense, meanwhile, used some … well … creative strategy in the final event, the tug-of-war.

And so it was in Penn State's 2015 Lift For Life, as the offense beat the defense with a late rally at the Lacrosse Field across from Holuba Hall Saturday. The real winner, of course, was the Kidney Cancer Association, which will receive $119,323 from the PSU Chapter of Uplifting Athletes thanks to LFL and other events throughout the year.

“The No. 1 goal today was to make $100,000,” said PSU strength coach Dwight Galt. “That was really important to our guys. The No. 2 thing, we wanted to have fun. … The guys have eight weeks in the bank training-wise, and they are crushing it right now. … And the third thing is we wanted them to compete and put on a good show.

“I think we're three for three,” he added.

In its 13th year, LFL pits the offense vs. the defense in a series of strength and conditioning challenges. Included is the bench press, where Barney put on a show.

The senior cranked out 35 reps as teammates and fans cheered him on.

But the most fun -- as usual -- came during the event-ending tug-of-war. And this is where the offense used its brains and brawn to literally pull out the win.

The first battle was between receivers and defensive backs. But several tailbacks -- led by veteran Akeel Lynch -- pitched in and the offense got the win.

Next up were tight ends and fullbacks vs. linebackers. At the last second, former Lion and current Pittsburgh Steeler TE Jesse James -- who was serving as the referee -- joined in with his former offensive teammates. The offense won easily to take the team lead in scoring.

Next up was the offensive line vs. the defensive line, a battle won easily by the defensive unit featuring Barney and fellow veteran tackles Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel. The defense moved ahead by a couple of points on the scoreboard.

And that left it to a match among the true freshmen, most of whom arrived on campus a couple weeks ago. Again, it was offense vs. defense.

The 325-pound Johnson brazenly attempted to take the first slot for the defensive rookies, but was immediately spotted and removed. The offensive veterans were much more sneaky. They waited for the war to start.

Once it did, sophomore running backs Nick Scott and Mark Allen joined the fray. Then came more running backs and offensive linemen and receivers.

By the time the defense realized what was happening -- safety Marcus Allen tried to push Mark Allen away and Johnson scrambled to get back on the rope -- momentum was lost. The offensive rookies (and friends) won, giving their team the overall victory.

Of course nobody took the unique strategy play (also known as cheating) too seriously. As soon as the event was over, players from both ends of the rope laughed and shook hands and hugged.

In 13 years, PSU Uplifting Athletes has raised more than $1 million for the fight against kidney cancer. And some of the most successful events came during the program's most difficult times.

That is not lost on Uplifting Athletes founder and executive director Scott Shirley, a former PSU receiver, who was once again on hand for the event.

“I tell people all the time, this would have never happened if I had gone to play football somewhere else,” Shirley said. “This is as Penn State as it gets.

“Three years ago, I addressed this audience under a cloud of uncertainty,” he added. “But I'll tell you what, the sun is shining today, isn't it?”

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