MINN: Game Breakdown

Get the good (Tony Hunt), the bad (field-goal attempts) and ugly (mistakes) from Penn State's overtime victory over Minnesota at the Metrodome Saturday. OK, so there was more ugly in this game than the Nittany Nation would have hoped. But somehow the Lions survived.

MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn't exactly a work of art. But it was a win on the road. For a Penn State outfit which struggled mightily in its first two trips away from home this season, that was the bottom line coming out of Saturday's 28-27 overtime victory over Minnesota. The Nittany Lions improved to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Big Ten with the win.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State running back Tony Hunt pounded out 144 yards and two TDs, and also caught a screen pass for a score. It was the fourth straight 100-yard rushing day for the Nittany Lion senior, who moved into 10th place on the school's all-time rushing list.

TURNING POINT: When Jason Giannini clanked the extra point off the left upright following Minnesota's TD to open overtime, it gave the Nittany Lions a chance to win on their possession. A pass interference call on Gopher DB Trumaine Banks (while covering Lion Deon Butler) kept PSU alive in overtime and it took advantage.

GOOD STRATEGY: Getting the ball to the workhorse Hunt 31 times. From this angle, there were times it seemed as if he should have toted the pigskin even more.

NUMBERS GAME: Minnesota, long known for producing great running backs, was limited to 68 rushing yards for the game (on 34 carries).

SPECIAL DELIVERY: PSU punter Jeremy Kapinos' impressive senior season continued. He uncorked a 59-yarder late in the fourth quarter to force the Gophers to go 86 yards to tie it. It was hardly his fault that they did just that. He also had four kicks downed inside the 20.

WHAT'S UP WITH: Penn State's inability to execute basic field goals? Kevin Suhey bobbled a snap in this one and Kevin Kelly missed a 42-yarder that would have given the Lions some breathing room in the third quarter. This is inexcusable from a Division I program.

HIT SQUAD: Lion defensive tackle Jay Alford and end Josh Gaines crunched QB Bryan Cupito with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter. It was the first time PSU got to the QB in the game. Also, Tyrell Sales nailed Dominic Jones on a first-quarter kickoff return, drawing a gasp from the Metrodome crowd.

HEADS-UP: Punt snapper Joe Cianciolo hustled down the field and alertly smothered the ball when Jones fumbled late in the first quarter. It led to a Hunt TD run that tied the game 7-7.

HIDDEN HERO: Jordan Norwood had five catches for 76 yards. He was not as flashy as Deon Butler or Derrick Williams, but he got the job done. Also, generally speaking, the makeshift offensive line — down a pair of starters — played well.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Speaking of Williams, he had a great all-around game. He caught four passes for 96 yards, carried three times for 22 yards (including a key 11-yard rush in overtime) and returned two punts for 18 yards. Not a bad day at the office.


• Minnesota (and the rest of the world) was not the slightest bit fooled on the two end-around plays the Lions attempted to run to freshman speedster A.J. Wallace. He was thrown for a loss on both plays. We're thinking it might be time to work something else into his repertoire.

• Williams missed time during the game with sore ribs. On one punt return in the fourth quarter, Brendan Perretta took his place.

• PSU QB Anthony Morelli played with the middle and index fingers on his left (non-throwing) hand taped together. He dislocated his middle finger in practice Thursday. It did not seem to impact him in the game, as he completed 20 of 34 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. The Nittany Lion did a walk-through practice at the Metrodome Friday, and Morelli said before his left hand felt OK taking snaps at the session, we was not sure he'd be able to play in this game.

• Receiver Terrell Golden saw his first action since the season-opener. He had been out with an ankle injury. He was used primarily as a blocker.

• True freshmen of note who made the trip but did not play: DE Aaron Maybin, RB Evan Royster and DT Phillip Taylor. DT Tom McEowen, who saw his first game action against Northwestern the previous week, did not dress for this game due to an unspecified injury.

• Minnesota coach Glen Mason wore a shirt and tie for the game. He does that whenever the Gophers play Penn State out of respect for PSU coach Joe Paterno.

• Each team was penalized only four times. But the flags sure seemed to come at key moments.

• FB Matt Hahn scored the first touchdown of his career in a7-yard flare from Morelli in the fourth quarter.

• The crowd was announced at 45,227. But to the naked eye, there appeared to be 35,000 people in the seats, tops.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will the Nittany Lions even be in the game against Michigan this week if they make as many mistakes as they did against Minnesota Saturday?


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