O'Brien Claims First Career Victory With 34-7 Win Over Navy
Sept. 15, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (AP) - Penn State football finally has a victory to celebrate.
Matt McGloin threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns and Penn State overwhelmed Navy in a 34-7 win Saturday for rookie coach Bill O'Brien's first career victory.
The Nittany Lions (1-2) rolled to a morale-boosting victory following two draining losses to open a season of change in Happy Valley.
Allen Robinson torched the Midshipmen's porous secondary for three touchdowns and 136 yards on five catches, while the Nittany Lions forced four turnovers including linebacker Mike Hull's 74-yard fumble return to make it 34-0 in the fourth quarter.
Gee Gee Greene ran for 70 yards and a score for the Midshipmen (0-2).
Faint chants of "Bill O'Brien" echoed out of the stands after the two teams exchanged handshakes at midfield following the final whistle. The Nittany Lions avoided going 0-3 for the first time since 2001.
On Saturday, Penn State celebrated O'Brien's first victory, and it was over early.
On a play fake, McGloin scrambled right and found tight end Jesse James near the side of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown catch and a 7-0 lead on the game-opening drive. More than five minutes later, McGloin hit Robinson with a pass at about the 10, but the sophomore two-stepped around defensive back Tra'ves Bush to jog untouched into the end zone for a two-touchdown lead.
Linebacker Gerald Hodges thwarted Navy's next drive into Penn State territory after intercepting an underthrown pass into the flat at the 10 by Navy quarterback Trey Miller, who was flushed out of the pocket under pressure. That turnover set up a 14-play, 90-yard drive that culminated with another Robinson touchdown catch, this one from two yards out.
Just like in its season opener to Notre Dame two weeks ago, Navy allowed touchdowns on its opponents' first three offensive series.
And just like two weeks ago, Navy limped home to Annapolis with another double-digit loss.
Miller, who had both feet heavily taped, injured an ankle in the 50-10 loss to the Irish. Appearing to walk with a slight limp, Miller was ineffective in the pocket, rushing 18 times for 21 yards and going 6 of 13 passing for 17 yards and an interception.
In came freshman backup quarterback Keenan Reynolds in the third quarter, who deftly led Navy's triple-option offense from its own 21 to the Penn State 26 before another mistake - this time a fumble by Noah Copeland at the line of scrimmage.
Hull emerged out of a swarm of blue shirts and raced down the middle of the field untouched 74 yards for a 34-0 lead. The creaky Beaver Stadium press box swayed as fans rocked the stands.
Penn State forced four turnovers for the second straight game. Navy now has six lost fumbles in its first two games after losing nine all of last year.
Those turnovers were costly for Navy, which otherwise was able to keep up with Penn State's new-fangled offense modeled after the attack O'Brien coordinated while he was with the New England Patriots. Navy outgained Penn State in total offense 371-341 and held the ball for 36 minutes.
Much of Navy's yardage came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand for Penn State. Another bright spot for the Midshipmen came on fourth downs, when Navy converted 5 of 8 chances.
But Penn State came up with the clutch turnovers to limit Navy's visits to the end zone.
Before they left the field, the Nittany Lions started a new tradition, the team gathering in front of the Blue Band to sing the alma mater.