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Oct. 31, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; - Linebacker Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.) has earned his second consecutive Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor after another dominating performance to lead the Penn State defense in a 10-7 Big Ten Leaders Division win over Illinois last Saturday.
Hodges is the first Nittany Lion to earn back-to-back conference accolades since former Linebacker U standout Navorro Bowman did so in 2009 (vs. Indiana and Michigan State). Penn State players have been honored six times this season by the conference, with Hodges joining quarterback Matt McGloin, cornerback/kick returner Chaz Powell and kicker/punter Anthony Fera (twice).
A junior, Hodges broke his hits career-high for the second consecutive week, recording 19 tackles (six solo) to lead another superb defensive effort by the Nittany Lions in the comeback win over the Illini. The former Paulsboro High School standout recorded a sack (minus-8), forced a fumble and had two pass break-ups.
Hodges' 19 tackles were the most by a Nittany Lion since Paul Posluszny recorded 22 tackles at Northwestern in 2005, and tied for 15th highest in Penn State annals.
Penn State (8-1, 5-0) held Illinois to seven points and 286 yards in the comeback win that gave Coach Joe Paterno the all-time NCAA mark for Division I with 409 victories. The Illini entered the game averaging 28.6 points and 417. 1 yards per game. The Nittany Lions forced a season-high four turnovers, bringing their season total to 22, and held their sixth opponent to 10 points or less.
For the season, Hodges leads Penn State and is No. 8 in the Big Ten with 77 tackles (41 solo). He leads the Nittany Lions and is No. 5 in the conference with 4.5 sacks and is second on the team and No. 9 in the conference with 9.0 TFL (minus-35).
Penn State leads the Big Ten and is No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (12.4 ppg). The Nittany Lions are No. 10 nationally in total defense (282.3 ypg), No. 8 in pass defense (170.4 ypg) and No. 4 in pass efficiency defense (96.37). Penn State also is No. 24 in rushing defense (111.9 ypg), tied for No. 7 with 22 turnovers forced and No. 26 with 23 sacks.
No. 16/15 Penn State is idle this week and hosts No. 9 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) in a huge Big Ten clash on Nov. 12. The kick time and TV are to be announced. The Cornhuskers host Northwestern Saturday before traveling to Beaver Stadium for the sold out Senior Day clash. Penn State and Nebraska will play annually as protected cross division rivals.
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