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Thrilling Pinstripe Bowl Finish Caps Off 2014 Season

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10649069.jpegVIDEO: One-on-One with James Franklin | VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews

NEW YORK - Penn State etched its place in Yankee Stadium lore on Saturday with a thrilling 31-30 overtime victory over Boston College in a sold out New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

The Nittany Lions again showed their resilient attitude, rallying from 21-7 down in the third quarter to send the game into overtime thanks to a 44-yard boot from senior captain Sam Ficken with 20 seconds to go. Pinstripe Bowl MVP Christian Hackenberg then found Kyle Carter for a 10-yard touchdown pass in overtime after Boston College scored and missed its extra point.

Carter's touchdown snag set up a walk-off opportunity for a man who faced more adversity during his tenure in Penn State Blue and White than anyone else on the roster. True to form during a tremendous senior season, Ficken buried the extra point to give the Nittany Lions a one-point victory and send Yankee Stadium into pandemonium.

It's hard to imagine a more fitting way for Ficken's Penn State career to draw to a close on a day when he used Yankee legend Derek Jeter's locker in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse.

10649063.jpeg"It's a storybook ending, really," Ficken said. "I couldn't have written a better way for it to go. This team has worked so hard and fought through so much. To say we made it to a bowl, first, and then that we won a bowl, is really incredible."

Penn State fans have seen it for three seasons. Regardless of the sanctions, scholarship circumstances, or score deficits, the Nittany Lions never stopped fighting. For a senior class that stuck with the program during its toughest times, Saturday's win was the fairy tale ending the veteran players deserved.

"For the seniors, they set the example. They set the precedent for guys like me," Hackenberg said. "That one was for them. They earned that for everything they've dealt with."

"I couldn't be more happy with how it went," All-American Mike Hull said. "I'm so grateful for everything. It's just fitting - I told these guys earlier - that we win in Yankee Stadium in overtime after the roller coaster ride we have had."

Hull's senior campaign will rank among Penn State's all-time bests at the linebacker position. He tallied six stops against Boston College to give him 140 tackles for the season, which is tied for No. 4 in Penn State history. A true class act on and off the field, Hull is a rare player with an unrivaled work ethic.

"You have heard me say this time and time again, but these guys will be remembered forever, for standing strong when we needed them to stand strong, to lay the foundation for great things to come," said head coach James Franklin. "Every win we have next year and for eternity will be on their backs."

The senior class overcame the unprecedented circumstances to finish their four seasons with a 31-19 record, extending the program's consecutive winning seasons mark to 10 years.

Saturday's gritty victory was a team win. Contributions came from all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams - and a host of individuals, ranging from true freshman Chris Godwin's seven-reception, 142-yard effort to senior Adrian Amos' seven tackles.

But the star among stars was the captain wearing No. 14. Hackenberg was phenomenal for the Nittany Lions, throwing for a Penn State bowl game record of 371 yards and four touchdown passes. The Virginia native was in the zone from the moment he took the field.

10649065.jpeg"I think that is a huge springboard for us, the guys who are coming back," Hackenberg said. "We will really be able to carry that momentum into winter workouts and then spring ball...Guys scratched and clawed and that has been the story of our year. Tonight, the guys did what we needed to win. To see it all come to accumulation in this game was special."

Credit the offensive line for giving Hackenberg great protection all night long, but the Lion sophomore delivered numerous balls to the corps of receivers and tight ends that left the stadium in awe of his talent level. Eight different players caught a pass in the Pinstripe Bowl, and seven Lions had at least three catches.

"I love Christian Hackenberg, I wouldn't trade him for anybody," Franklin said. "I think he's got a really bright future at Penn State moving forward. I will fight and defend him till the end."

With his efforts on Saturday evening, Hackenberg broke the Penn State season total offense mark with 3,258 yards in 2014. He finished the season ranked No. 3 in career passing yardage at 5,932.

In a season filled with close games, the Nittany Lions finish 2014 with a 7-6 mark. Sure, everyone in the program would love to have a few plays altered to add more wins to the season total, but the Nittany Lions battled from start to finish.

The group has a never-say-die fiber about it that is truly unique. A season that began with a walk-off win in Ireland ended in storybook fashion on the field in one of the world's most famous venues.

Nittany Nation made Yankee Stadium feel like a home Saturday under the lights in Beaver Stadium, and the season closed in a fitting manner for a team that deserved every ounce of its success.

"The way the guys persevered all season, wasn't always pretty, but we stuck together, and to me that's who we are, blue-collar, hard-nosed program," Franklin said.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: One-on-One with James Franklin Following the Pinstripe Bowl

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks

NEW YORK - Relive some of the crucial plays down the stretch and hear from head coach James Franklin following Penn State's thrilling 31-30 win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl inside Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.

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VIDEO: Pinstripe Bowl Postgame Player Interviews

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VIDEO: Pinstripe Bowl Postgame - One-on-One with James Franklin 

NEW YORK - Hear from several Nittany Lions in the media room following Penn State's thrilling 31-30 win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl inside Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.

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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Press Conference - Pinstripe Bowl

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VIDEO: James Franklin One-on-One | VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks

NEW YORK - Hear from head coach James Franklin in the media room following Penn State's thrilling 31-30 win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl inside Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Pinstripe Bowl Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Boston College

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NEW YORK - Welcome to's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at Penn State's Pinstripe Bowl matchup against Boston College inside Yankee Stadium.


2014 Pinstripe Bowl Blog - Penn State vs. Boston College

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NEW YORK - Welcome to's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. Penn State closes out the season with a matchup against Boston College inside Yankee Stadium.

Live Blog 2014 Pinstripe Bowl Blog - Penn State vs. Boston College

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Nittany Lions Set to Face Boston College in Pinstripe Bowl

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Pinstripe Bowl Coverage - NYC Arrival | 9/11 Memorial Visit | Rockefeller Center Visit
Media Day Highlights | Nittany Lions Open Stock Exchange | Boston College Scouting Report
Friday Photo GalleryGame Notes | Bowl Central | Pinstripe Bowl Game Blog

NEW YORK - Penn State (6-6, 2-6 B1G) will be making its 45th bowl appearance in program history on Saturday when they face Boston College (7-5, 4-4 ACC) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The game will kick off at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The Nittany Lions add to their rich postseason tradition when their first appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl. Their 45 on-field bowl appearances rank ninth in NCAA history and the 27 on-field post-season victories are tied for No. 4 nationally with Georgia and Texas, and lead all Big Ten Conference institutions.

10567877.jpegThe Pinstripe Bowl becomes the 15th different bowl game, while Boston College is the 29th different bowl opponent in the Lions' illustrious history. The Eagles mark the second-straight second straight newcomer to the bowl roster, after playing Houston in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl.

"We've had a fantastic week," head coach James Franklin said. "To spend a week in New York City during the Christmas holiday has been unbelievable...It's been first class from top to bottom, so I'm thankful for that. We've had a great week, and we are looking forward to getting out there to play the game."

The game will be played at Yankee Stadium and mark the fourth time in program history the Nittany Lions will play in the New York Yankees home venue; tying West Virginia, 13-13, on Oct. 27, 1923 during the stadiums first year of existence, falling to Georgia Tech, 16-7, on Oct. 10, 1925 and NYU, 7-0, on Oct. 19, 1929. Overall, Penn State owns a record of 16-4-3 in Major League Baseball venues (10 different parks).

The Pinstripe Bowl will mark the 24th all-time meeting between the two Eastern rivals. Penn State owns a 19-4 edge in the all-time series, but Boston College has won the last three meetings. The first meeting came during the 1946 season, a 32-14 Penn State win, and the last occurred on Sept. 11, 2004, a 21-7 BC victory.

Penn State enters with one of the nation's top defensive units; ranking No. 1 in rushing defense (84.8 ypg), No. 2 passing efficiency defense (99.71) and total defense (269.8 ypg), and the No. 7 scoring defense (17.7 ppg).

"This is an opportunity to get out there and play the way we are capable of playing and finish on a positive note," Franklin said. "I'm really, really proud of our guys and thankful for the opportunity to be here."

All-American linebacker Mike Hull paces the Big Ten and ranks No. 7 nationally with 11.2 tackles per game. His 134 total tackles this season rank sixth in school history and helped him earn numerous All-America accolades, along with the Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and a first team All-Big Ten laurels. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel enters the contest ranked No. 15 in school history with 16.0 career sacks, with a career-high 8.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss so far in 2014.

On offense, All-Big Ten performer DaeSean Hamilton is enjoying the finest season a freshman wide receiver has ever had at Penn State. He enters the Pinstripe Bowl with 75 catches for 848 yards and is the Penn State freshman record holder in receptions and receiving yards in a game and season. Christian Hackenberg continues to climb the all-time passing charts at Penn State, needing just 181 yards to pass Daryll Clark (5,742; 2006-09) and climb into fourth on the career passing yards list. He enters the game with 5,561 career yards and ranks tied for ninth all-time with 28 scoring strikes.

The Eagles lean on the running game and the two-headed attack of quarterback Tyler Murphy and running back Jon Hilliman. As a team, Boston College ranks 14th nationally with 251.8 rushing yards per game, with 29 of their 40 offensive scores coming on the ground. The defense is also stout against the run, sitting No. 4 nationally with just 95.5 yards per game allowed. They also rank 12th in the FBS with just 313.5 yards of total offense allowed.

"They do a great job," Franklin said. "Don (Brown) is a guy I would put into the 'chaos' category. He's bringing people from all different angles, all different looks and all different personnel groupings. I think he believes strongly in trying to confuse offensive lines...They are aggressive on the perimeter with their defensive backs because they know the quarterback isn't going to be able to hold the ball very long when they take all of the short throws away. They have a great scheme, and he does a great job. We're looking forward to competing against them."

Murphy leads the Eagles in both rushing and passing, accounting for 21 total touchdowns this season. He has rushed for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns, and thrown for 1,526 yards and 11 scores. Murphy broke the Atlantic Coast Conference's season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,079 yards. Hilliman has amassed 712 rushing yards and crossed the goal line 12 times this season, as well.

"Stopping the run is something we've been good at all year long," Franklin said. "This is going to be a tremendous challenge. They have a group of men who have a lot of experience and played together for a long time. I think it's going to be the focal point of the game - their o-line against our d-line. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for both sides."

PreviewGraphic_BOSTON COLLEGE_2014.jpg

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Nittany Lions Ring Opening Bell at New York Stock Exchange

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Photo Gallery - NYSE Visit

NEW YORK - Head coach James Franklin and seniors Brad Bars, Sam Ficken and Devin Pryor received the thrill of a lifetime on Friday morning when they participated in the ringing of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Ficken, who interned with Merrill Lynch during the summer, officially opened the trading for the day by ringing the bell for 10 seconds at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. The opening of the stock exchange aired live on 35 media outlets and will be on approximately 225 times during the course of the day.

"I was a little bit nervous, not going to lie," Ficken joked. "It was a really cool experience for us."

Bars (Finance) graduated with a 3.67 GPA; Pryor (Energy Business & Finance) graduated with a 3.20 GPA and Ficken (Finance) has a 3.59 GPA. All three were thrilled with the opportunity to visit Wall Street inside the world's largest stock exchange.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to come to the New York Stock Exchange and ring the bell," Bars said. "Ficken did a great job up there and got it exactly on point. It's really cool to see the atmosphere."

"It was awesome," Pryor said. "How many people can say they did that? I'm so grateful."

Just as Ficken finished ringing the bell for 10 seconds, a "We Are" chant broke out from traders on the floor. A host of Penn State alums and football letterman have direct ties to financial firms working in the stock exchange. Andrew and Mike Guman and Pete Massaro are among the long list of former Nittany Lions with experience on Wall Street. The Penn State group met letterman Tony Matesic (1991), who works for Barclays, on the floor during Friday's visit.

"Penn Staters are everywhere. I met a letterman while we were here that works on the floor," Ficken said. "I knew we are going to have some here. It was awesome to be up there for the opening bell."

Ficken has aspirations of working on Wall Street when his football playing days are over.

"The letterman and alumni who work here afforded me the opportunity to work at Merrill Lynch," Ficken said. "It's an incredible network, and it's something that I'm looking to join whenever football ends. I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity and the path they have created."

The education provided by Penn State put finance majors, like Ficken, in a position to be successful in the world's financial capital. The power of the degree coupled with the network of Nittany Lion football letterman with experience working on Wall Street puts student-athletes like Ficken in fantastic opportunities for success.

"It's a top of the line education," Ficken said. "The value of the degree is seen by everyone. I've seen it firsthand, and I couldn't be more thankful for that."

The Nittany Lions received commemorative medallions for opening the New York Stock Exchange. The average daily trading value was approximately $169 billion during 2013.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Opponent Previews - Boston College

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Boston College | New Era Pinstripe Bowl | Yankee Stadium | 4:30 p.m. | ESPN

NEW YORK - Penn State will make its 45th bowl appearance, taking on Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium. Meet the Eagles in the final scouting report of the 2014 season.

Head coach Steve Addazio is in his second year leading the Eagles after previously coaching at Temple. Addazio has a 27-22 career mark and is 14-11 at Boston College. The Eagles are making their second-straight bowl appearance, after playing Arizona in last year's AdvoCare V100 Bowl. The Eagles returned 31 lettermen and nine starters from 2013.

Boston College enters the bowl game with a 7-5 record, including 4-4 in the ACC. They finished fourth in the Atlantic division. The Eagles faced eight teams that were selected for bowl games, with wins over three of those teams. The Eagles' best win came when they knocked off No. 9 USC, 37-31, on Sept. 13.

The Boston College offense averages 25.9 points per game, ranking 81st in the nation and 10th in the ACC. The Eagles also average 383.8 total yards, ranking 76th in the FBS and 10th in the ACC. The strength of the Eagles' offense is their rushing attack, which averages 251.8 yards per game to rank 14th in the nation and second in their conference. Boston College averages 132 passing yards, ranking 121st in the nation and 14th in the ACC.

Leading the Boston College offense is senior Tyler Murphy, who completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,526 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. A dual-threat quarterback, Murphy also rushed for 1,079 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and 10 touchdowns. Murphy is the only quarterback in FBS this year to pass and rush for 1,000 yards. He is one of two quarterbacks with more than 1,000 rushing yards.

Jon Hilliman, a 6-foot, 215-pound freshman, has 712 yards and 12 touchdowns on 185 carries to lead the Eagles' running backs. Hillman was selected third team All-ACC. Splitting time with Hilliman is sophomore Myles Willis, a 5-foot-9, 203-pound back. Willis has 440 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

The Eagles' receiving corps features boasts some very good size, led by 6-foot-4 senior Josh Bordner, who has 26 catches for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Dan Crimmins, a 6-foot-5 junior, has 23 receptions for 297 yards. Charlie Callinan, a 6-foot-4 freshman, has 13 catches for 149 yards and a score, while 6-foot-3 senior Shakim Phillips has 10 receptions for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Five-foot-six freshman Sherman Alston is a unique threat for the Eagles, with 352 yards rushing, 169 yards receiving and four total touchdowns.

Boston College's offensive line includes five graduate seniors. The five have combined for 124 career starts. Center Andy Gallik was named second team All-ACC, while guard Bobby Vardaro was named to the third team. Tackle Ian Silberman was honorable mention All-ACC.

The Eagles defense is tied for 18th in the nation and third in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 20.5 points per game. They also rank 12th in the FBS and third in the conference in total defense, giving up 313.5 yards per game. The Eagles allow 218 passing yards and 95.5 rushing yards per game, ranking 48th and fourth in the nation, respectively. They rank 10th and second in the ACC, respectively, in those categories. The Eagles have forced 12 turnovers, including nine interceptions.

End Kevin Kavalec leads the defensive line with 37 tackles, including 29 solo. Kavalec also has 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Fellow end Brian Mihalik has 27 stops, including 15 solo, 4.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. Mihalik also has an interception. Tackle Connor Wujciak was named third team All-ACC after recording 30 tackles, 17 solo, 7.5 for loss and three sacks. He also has a forced fumble and blocked a kick.

Junior Steven Daniels leads the linebackers with 68 tackles, including 42 solo stops. Daniels also has 7.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks, as well as an interception and two fumble recoveries. Josh Keyes has contributed 63 tackles, including 43 solo and 11.5 for loss, with four sacks. Keyes also forced a fumble. Matt Strizak has 42 tackles, including five for loss, a sack and a pick.

Safety Justin Simmons leads the defense with 70 tackles, including 57 solo. He also has two TFL, a sack, two interceptions and five pass breakups. Cornerback Manuel Apsrilla has recorded 61 stops, with 48 solo, four for loss and nine pass breakups. Safety Dominique Williams has 55 tackles, 37 solo, 4.0 hits for loss and an interception.

Boston College has used three different kickers this year. Mike Knoll started the final two games of the season, connecting on two-of-three attempts, with a long of 40. Joey Launceford is 4-of-4 with a long of 28, while Alex Howell is 5-of-11 with a long of 44. Howell handles the kickoff and punting duties, averaging 43 yards per punt. Willis is the Eagles' kick returner, averaging 25 yards per return. Willis returned a kick 95 yards for a touchdown on the opening kick against Syracuse. Alston handles the punt return duties, averaging 7.8 yards per return.

Penn State leads the all-time series, on the field, 19-4. The teams last met in 2004, with the Nittany Lions earning a 21-7 win in Alumni Stadium.

What Steve Addazio is saying about Penn State:

"Penn State is a very good football team...They've got a bunch of good football players there. Mike Hull, their linebacker, is outstanding. They've got some great pass-rushers."

"Christian Hackenberg is a typical NFL quarterback. He's got a terrific arm; he's a big, strong guy and he's pretty athletic. The quarterback has to make it happen for you and he does."

"There's great history between the two teams playing each other, so we couldn't be more excited."

Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by Student Writer Paul Marboe.

VIDEO: Pinstripe Bowl Media Day Highlights

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Pinstripe Bowl Coverage - NYC Arrival | 9/11 Memorial Visit | Rockefeller Center Visit

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lions capped off a busy Christmas Eve with media day and a New Era Pinstripe Bowl Welcome Reception inside Yankee Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Following practice at Fordham University, coordinators John Donovan, Charles Huff and Bob Shoop, along with senior Mike Hull, juniors Jordan Lucas, Angelo Mangiro and Anthony Zettel and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton traveled to Yankee Stadium to take part in the media day festivities.

"We've had a great week so far," Donovan said. "We've been busy. We've seen a lot of sights. We've been around town. We've had some good meetings and good practices. It's been busy. It's exciting. It's an exciting town. There are a lot of things going on. The game is going to be electric, and we are looking forward to it."

For Mangiro (Roxbury, New Jersey) and Lucas (New Rochelle, New York), the trip has been a homecoming and granted the duo a unique opportunity to prepare for a game close to home.

"It means a lot to me," Lucas said. "A lot of family will be at the game that don't get to travel as much. A lot of my friends are able to come, and they've never seen me play before in State College. It means a lot to me to be back home and play in such a prestigious stadium."

"It's been fun. It's something that I will always remember," Mangiro said. "It's been fun to be around the guys who haven't been to New York before or to a city this big. It's been fun to see them wide-eyed and in awe of the Big Apple."

The players and coaches received a tour of some of Yankee Stadium's tradition-rich artifacts, photography and exhibits prior to media day. The tour included a view at countless pieces of photography throughout Yankee history and a case featuring all of the franchise's 27 World Series rings.

"I haven't really had a chance to sit down and think about the fact that, wow, we are getting ready to go play a game in Yankee Stadium,' Hamilton said. "We got a really cool tour before we came down for media day and got to see a lot of the history. It's pretty exciting to be here, and it's only Wednesday. On Saturday, it's only going to be more exciting."

Following media day, the entire Penn State travel party congregated at Yankee Stadium for a superb welcome reception and dinner. The holiday-themed affair featured a buffet dinner, carolers and an opportunity for the Nittany Lion football family to spend time together as a group during the trip.

Penn State will practice on Christmas Day before dinner and a trip to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular during the evening.

Penn State and Boston College are slated to meet in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. with television coverage on ESPN.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony