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Oct. 30, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second consecutive week, a play by the nationally ranked Penn State defense has been selected the overwhelming winner of the Pontiac Game Changing Performance.
Safety Mark Rubin's (Amherst, N.Y.) forced fumble in the fourth quarter of the Nittany Lions' 13-6 win at No. 10 Ohio State earned 53 percent of the votes from Nittany Nation and college football fans among the four plays that were nominated. A touchdown by Florida State in its win over Virginia Tech was a distant second with 27 percent.
Last week, the huge sack in the end zone recorded by junior defensive tackle Jared Odrick (Lebanon) in Penn State's 46-17 win over Michigan was the Pontiac Game Changing Performance recipient.
The announcement was made at halftime of tonight's ESPN's Thursday Night Football game. With Rubin's selection as the recipient of the Pontiac Game Changing Performance, Pontiac with contribute $5,000 to Penn State's general scholarship fund.
With the Buckeyes leading, 6-3, in the fourth quarter, Rubin hit Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor and knocked the ball loose. Senior linebacker Tyrell Sales (Butler) shielded the ball from OSU's Chris Wells and knocked it backwards, where sophomore linebacker Navorro Bowman (District Heights, Md.) recovered at the OSU 38. Quarterback Pat Devlin (Downingtown) and tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) led the Nittany Lions downfield, with Devlin scoring on a one-yard run with 6:25 to play for a 10-6 Penn State lead.
After taking the lead, the Nittany Lions forced a punt and Kevin Kelly (Langhorne) connected on a 35-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead. In the final minute, senior cornerback Lydell Sargeant (Lompoc, Calif.) grabbed his team-high third interception in the end zone and the Lions ran out the clock, improving to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten.
Rubin was selected the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts vs. the Buckeyes. He made a career-high 11 tackles (nine solo) and led a defensive effort that limited Ohio State to its lowest point total in Ohio Stadium since a 6-0 loss to Wisconsin in 1982. Penn State held OSU to 61 rushing yards on 31 carries, 121 yards below its season average. Ohio State's Chris Wells entered the game averaging 123.8 ypg (10th in nation), but was held to 55 yards on 22 carries.
A starter in every game this season, Rubin is fifth on the team with 43 tackles and has 1.0 TFL and an interception.
Penn State has been selected for the Pontiac Game Changing Performance four times in the past four seasons. Senior Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) was honored for his game-winning touchdown catch vs. Northwestern in 2005 and his punt return touchdown against Notre Dame in 2007, in addition to Odrick's safety two weeks ago in the win over Michigan.
Penn State is No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and Associated Press, USA Today Coaches and Harris polls. The Nittany Lions are idle this week and return to action Nov. 8 at Iowa (5-3, 2-2). The clash will kick at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT and be an ABC regional telecast (ESPN in rest of nation) The Hawkeyes visit Illinois on Saturday.