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Week Two In-Game Blog - Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.  Check back often for running updates as the action unfolds.

Take a look back at Penn State's 17-16 setback to the Cavaliers on Saturday...

Halftime - Penn State 7, Virginia 3
The first half in Charlottesville featured a little bit of everything.  Penn State marched 75 yards in 17 plays on its opening drive to claim a 7-0 lead.  Matt McGloin found Kyle Carter from eight yards out, which capped a 6:27 drive.  The Nittany Lions then caught a break on Virginia's first offensive play when Michael Mauti forced a turnover, setting up the offense with a first down at the Virginia 17 yard line.  The drive ended with a missed field goal.  The Lion defense created another turnover on a superb defensive play from Jordan Hill.  Hill's interception handed the Nittany Lions a first down at the 19 of UVa.  The end result proved to be the same, though.  Penn State failed to connect on a field goal attempt.  Virginia manufactured one field goal drive to cap the scoring at 7-3.  The big story for Penn State, though, was Matt McGloin.  The senior quarterback took a helmet off his throwing elbow in the first half.  True freshman Steven Bench, who became Penn State's first true freshman QB to appear in a game since Rob Bolden in 2010, played on the final drive in the second quarter with McGloin nursing the bruised nerve in his elbow.  Penn State's defense played very well in the first half, limiting Virginia to just 95 yards in the first half.

Third Quarter - Virginia 10, Penn State 7
Virginia received the opening kickoff of the second half and scored a touchdown following 77-yard drive.  The Cavalier score set the score at 10-7, UVa with 9:22 to play in the quarter.  Penn State answered with a 72-yard drive, which was fueled by a pair of McGloin completions to Alex Kenney (23 and 24 yards).  The Nittany Lions were stopped at the 3 yard line, but missed the short field goal.  Virginia handed the ball back to the Nittany Lions on a fumbled exchange between Rocco and his center.  Gerald Hodges hopped on the loose ball, but the Lions were not able to capitalize on the short field.  The score remains at 10-7, Virginia, as the teams head into the fourth quarter.

Final: - Virginia 17, Penn State 16
The Nittany Lions jumped on top of Virginia after a spectacular diving touchdown catch from sophomore wide out Allen Robinson.  Robinson's score put the Nittany Lions up 13-10, but the extra point was blocked.  Sam Ficken added a field goal on Penn State's next drive, which started deep inside Virginia territory after Deion Barnes notched a sack-fumble.  From there, Penn State had the ball one more time and punted.  Virginia took over possession at the 8:04 mark in the fourth quarter.  The Cavaliers used 6:36 and covered 86 yards before scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 1:28 on the clock.  With the score set at 17-16, Cavaliers, Penn State had one more chance to win.  As the Lions have done time and time again at practice, McGloin marched the offense deep inside Virginia territory while operating the 2-minute drill.  Nonetheless, Sam Ficken's 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired sailed wide left, sealing a one-point win for Virginia.


Statistically, the Nittany Lions took significant strides forward on defense.  Penn State held UVa under 300 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers and tallied 7.0 tackles for loss.  The defense will still work on its ability to get off the field on third down, but the unit made good progress on Saturday, led by a stellar day from Michael Mauti.  Offensively, the Nittany Lions obtained possession inside Virginia's 40-yard line four times, but came away with only three total points.  Additionally, the Lions missed four field goals and had an extra point blocked.  The team showed signs of good progress and competed for a road victory, but execution will continue to be a point of emphasis on the practice field this week as the Nittany Lions prepare for Saturday's contest against Navy.


Pregame Reading:

- Good morning from Scott Stadium in steamy Charlottesville.  The Nittany Lions arrived at the stadium just before 9:30 a.m. this morning in preparation for today's noon kick with the Cavaliers.  The weather will be hot and humid throughout the contest with temperatures reaching the mid 80s.  There is a chance of thunderstorms late in the game, so we will keep an eye on that.

- Senior running back Derek Day will start at running back this afternoon in place of the injured Bill Belton.  Belton did not make the trip as he continues treatment on his sprained ankle.  Coach O'Brien said that the Nittany Lions will also use Zach Zwinak and Curtis Dukes in the backfield today.  You could also see freshman Akeel Lynch in the backfield, as well.


- The Nittany Lions will be looking to sustain offensive drives by converting on third down.  Additionally, the same is true on defense, as the Lions will be looking to get off of the field on third down.  That was a point of emphasis throughout the week of practice.

- Virginia junior quarterback Michael Rocco is an efficient player with good arm strength and sound decision making ability.  The son of a former Nittany Lion quarterback, Frank Rocco Jr., Rocco tallied a 311-yard outing in Virginia's week one victory over Richmond.  Rocco has several weapons in the receiving corps, but keep an eye on his ability to complete short passes to move the chains on Saturday.  Penn State needs to find a way to put some pressure on Rocco this afternoon.


- Stay tuned throughout the day for updates.  We will be on the field during the first half, so look for an update at halftime recapping the first half of action.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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