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Penn State wins Pinstripe Bowl in overtime

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Christian Hackenberg's fourth touchdown pass of the game—following a Boston College missed extra point—gave Penn State a 31-30 win in the Pinstripe Bowl Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

BRONX, NY -- Sam Ficken’s career at Yankee Stadium ended much like Derek Jeter’s, with a walk-off.

Except it wasn’t a hard liner in the hole between first and second base, it was an extra point through the uprights in front of Monument Park.

The senior kicker — who used Jeter’s old locker in Yankee Stadium — knocked the chip-shot home to give the Penn State a 31-30 overtime win against Boston College in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday to end the Nittany Lions’ topsy-turvy season on a high note.

“[The game winning extra point] was a first,” Ficken said. “I liked it though. It was kind of nice. Not a whole lot of pressure so it was good.”

That wasn’t the only heroic act of the game from Ficken though, as he blasted home a 45-yard field goal to tie the game with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

“I love Sam. ...He’s probably been our best offensive weapon all year long,” coach James Franklin said. “...Sam has been consistent as any player in our program from the day he arrived.”

In terms of the game as a whole, like most of 2014 for the Lions, their matchup against the Eagles was far from smooth sailing.

Both teams had a quick start in the first quarter, as Christian Hackenberg hit freshman Chris Godwin deep down the sideline for a 72-yard score on the Lions’ third drive of the game.

Godwin was the Lions’ leading receiver on the day with seven receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Boston College quickly answered though, as Hilliman took a handoff on the Eagles’ second play of the drive and went 49 yards to the house to tie the game at 7-7.

For the remainder of the half, though, both offenses became anemic and could not find the end zone, carrying a baseball-like 7-7 tie into halftime.

“I think the offense played well early, then played well late,” Franklin said. “Early on [the Eagles] had us thinking fast and not playing fast as we normally play, fast aggressive and confident. I think that was a factor.”

When play resumed, it seemed as if the Penn State team that had lost four straight games earlier in the season had returned to the field for the second half.

The Eagles marched down the field on their first drive, going 60 yards and capping it off with a Murphy-to-Phillips 19-yard touchdown to go up 14-7.

The Lions then moved the ball as they had done for much of the game, but a Hackenberg fumble in Eagles territory gave Boston College the ball back.

Murphy managed to capitalize on the turnover, rushing 40 yards for a score, bringing the Eagles’ lead to 21-7 with 2:12 to go in the third quarter.

The Eagles signal-caller was 11-of-19 with 97 yards and two touchdowns passing on the day while rushing 11 times for 105 yards and the long score.

But facing a 14-point deficit, Penn State didn’t crumble as it had in previous games. Hackenberg — who was 34-of-50 for 371 yards and four touchdowns on the day — showed poise and led the Lions back.

“I’m happy for [Hackenberg], Franklin said. “I think this springboards us into the offseason... I love Christian Hackenberg. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”

Hackenberg started by firing a pass that was tipped up and caught by Geno Lewis for a seven-yard score.

Then, with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter, after two strong series from the Lions defensive unit, Hackenberg threaded the needle to DaeSean Hamilton for a 17-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21.

“We stuck to our game plan. We stuck to our guns,” Hackenberg said. “We were able to go out and execute and string plays together and put good drives together and ultimately win. It was the difference in the game.”

Hackenberg’s finest moments, though, came late in the game. With two minutes remaining, he led his team dowPenn State Pinstripe Bowln the field to set up Ficken’s field goal and in overtime, he hit Kyle Carter on a fade route in the end zone to give Ficken the chance for the win.

“It’s a story book ending, really,” Ficken said. “I couldn’t have written it any better.”

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