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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The new Blue-White game scoring system added a new dimension to the culmination of spring practice, as the Blue (defense) outlasted the White (offense), 77-65, before 60,000 fans on a high-scoring Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium.
Back-to-back sacks (each worth four points) from redshirt sophomore defensive end C.J. Olaniyan mid-way through the second quarter put the Blue team on top by a score of 40-35, and the defense never looked back.
The defensive unit tallied eight sacks, including three from Olaniyan, 13 tackles for a loss (each worth two points) and five interceptions (each worth six points). Linebacker Glenn Carson paced the winning Blue squad with eight tackles and 1.5 TFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, the White squad tallied 417 yards of offense, four touchdowns and one field goal en route to a total of 65 points in the feature scoring system. Sophomore Bill Belton, who moved to running back prior to spring practice, finished with a team-high 50 yards rushing on seven carries and a touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Zach Zwinak also scored a rushing touchdown.
At the quarterback spot, senior Matt McGloin, junior Rob Bolden and sophomore Paul Jones took the bulk of the reps under center. McGloin tallied a 6-for-13 afternoon with 105 yards and a touchdown. Jones went 6-for-15 for 113 yards and a score. Bolden finished 7-for-14 for 78 yards. Walk-on Shane McGregor led the offense on its first touchdown drive. He finished 4-for-4 on the afternoon for 47 yards.
Sophomore Allen Robinson led the receivers with three catches for 87 yards, including three big plays over 20 yards. Redshirt junior Shawney Kersey hauled in three catches for 54 yards. Redshirt junior Christian Kuntz tallied a receiving touchdown, as did redshirt junior tight end Matt Lehman.
"It was a great day to get into the stadium and get in a game operation," Coach O'Brien said. "There's some things that you can really learn from that. You can meet as a staff, which we'll do before these guys head out on the road recruiting, and talk about a lot of the glitches, because obviously it wasn't perfect, and we can really learn from it."
Coach O'Brien said after the game that the offense showed roughly 10 percent of the playbook on Saturday afternoon.
The defense will have bragging rights heading into the summer, but the bigger picture on Saturday afternoon was the collective progress Penn State made from the start of spring practice on March 26 to Saturday's Blue-White Game.
Coach O'Brien's message to the team after the game highlighted the foundation the team laid leading up to the summer season. As we have written throughout the spring, the learning curve was steep for the players on both sides of the ball.
Most of the players GoPSUsports.com talked to after the game likened the new playbook and schemes to learning a new foreign language. But man-for-man and unit-by-unit across the board, each player and coach made progress during the spring practice season.
The difference between practice one and practice 15 was night and day, in terms of personnel lined up in the right spots, execution and playing at the tempo at which Coach O'Brien wants to play at.
The foundation is in place for the start of training camp. Coach O'Brien would be the first to tell you that there is a long way to go between now and the Sept. 1 season-opener against Ohio, but the Nittany Lions will move into the summer season following a good spring.
The Blue team topped the White squad on Saturday, and the work for Coach O'Brien and the Nittany Lions is just beginning, but there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the Nittany Lion football program as the calendar inches toward the 2012 season.
"I felt it was pretty good, and I think it was exciting for the fans at times," Coach O'Brien said. "I'm not saying it was the most exciting game in the world, but I said it wasn't going to be the most exciting game in the world. But again, it was great to see all the fans out there, and I think it was a good day for Penn State football."
Penn State fans got a taste of the new-look Nittany Lions on Saturday. The countdown to the season-opener is 133 days.
Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony