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Hill, Nittany Lions Finish 2012 in Fitting Style

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday's Senior Day clash with Wisconsin was a microcosm of Penn State's 2012 season.

8354174 (1).jpegThe Nittany Lions were knocked to the mat early, rebounded and then battled to a dramatic overtime victory.  Everyone on the roster wanted to see a comfortable victory on Saturday afternoon, but it would not have been the proper way for the senior class to go out.

This group of 31 players defined what it means to be resilient.  An easy win over Wisconsin would not have done the group's Penn State journey justice.

Wisconsin wasted little time scoring twice in the first quarter, and the Nittany Lions did not lead until the 13:32 mark in the fourth quarter when Jesse James raced 41 yards on a crisp fourth-down throw from Matt McGloin.  The Badgers answered with a touchdown in the final minute, but senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill was not going to let his team lose.

Battling a sore knee, Hill was unstoppable in the fourth quarter and overtime on Saturday afternoon.  His career has been marked by big plays in the center of the defensive line, but Saturday was, without question, Hill's finest hour in a Penn State uniform.

"It was a storybook ending," Hill said.  "It was a perfect ending to a bad beginning.  I felt the whole game it really told the story about what we went through all year, being knocked down early and being able to get back up."

Hill was unblockable in the fourth quarter and overtime.  He finished with a career-high 12 tackles on Saturday. Eight of his tackles and three tackles for loss occurred in the fourth quarter and overtime, alone.

"It's just hard to put into words what Jordan Hill's meant to this team," head coach Bill O'Brien said.  "He just plays so hard.  He's an excellent football player.  He plays with great leverage, great hands.  He's a phenomenal kid off the field.  He's great in the locker room.  There's nothing that you can say bad about him.  His personal story is unbelievable and I just wish we had him for longer."

The Steelton, Pa., native is a blue collar football player who always wore his emotions on the sleeves of his No. 47 jersey.  Hill never took a play off in his career at Penn State - not at practice and not in a game.  He is a model for defensive line coach Larry Johnson to use in his film room forever.  Anytime a future Penn State defensive lineman wants to see how hard he needs to play, Johnson will show a tape of Hill.

Hill's effort on Saturday was a performance for the ages.  He did whatever was necessary to win.

"It means the world for the senior class and for this 2012 team," Hill said.

Hill and the senior class will go down as a group of remarkable players who stuck with Penn State during its toughest days.  The final chapter for the 2012 season is one that will be remembered for a very long time.  It was a chapter Hill and the 2012 football team earned and deserved.

"I want it to go down in history, not for the wins but for the character of all our guys and everything that we've been through and how to overcome stuff when you get knocked down," Hill said.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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Congratulations to the entire team. I continue to be proud of the character and motivated by the dedication of the players and coaches. I am proud to be a Penn Stater...

By the way, my son, who has been recruited academically by many of the nation's best schools, has accepted his offer of admission to Penn State. He sees that Penn State is truly a special place, with great academics, athletics, leadership, alumni, community support, etc. He can't wait to become a Nittany Lion!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

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