The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

September 23, 2013

O'Brien liking Penn State defense

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is feeling much better about his Nittany Lions’ defense. And he’s got two weeks to enjoy the good mood before Penn State opens its Big Ten Conference schedule.

A week after facing criticism directed at his defenders, O’Brien was itching to field questions regarding a unit coming off its stingiest outing of the season.

“You guys need to ask me some defense questions,” O’Brien said, addressing reporters following a 34-0 win over Kent State on Saturday evening. “You guys were all over them last week and they just pitched a shutout. I thought the defense played a hell of a football game today.”

In limiting Kent State to 190 yards offense and nine first downs, the Nittany Lions (3-1) bounced back from a 34-31 loss to Central Florida the previous weekend. That’s when Penn State was torched for 507 yards offense and allowed 10 plays that went 20 yards or longer.

Kent State, by comparison, had just one 20-yard gain – running back Ernest Calhoun’s 22-yard run late in the third quarter.

Safety Ryan Keiser had four tackles, a sack and a game-turning interception, which came immediately after Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was picked off at midfield midway through the third quarter. Linebacker Glenn Carson led the way with seven tackles, including two for a loss.

“This was a really important week for us,” Carson said. “Coming off a loss, everyone wants to see how we respond. You feel it all week long while practicing. And coming out and winning gets it off your shoulders a little bit.”

Questions still remain.

Penn State still continues to have difficulty generating a pass rush and forcing turnovers. After four games, the Nittany Lions have four interceptions, one forced fumble and eight sacks.

Containing the Golden Flashes is one thing, particularly with the Mid-American Conference team missing its most dynamic threat in running back Dri Archer, who was held out to rest a nagging sore ankle.

The more daunting challenges are yet to come. After a bye week off, Penn State plays at Indiana on Oct. 5, followed by games against Michigan and Ohio State.

And shutting out Kent State is nothing new in Happy Valley.

The Nittany Lions’ last shutout came in a 24-0 win over the Golden Flashes on Sept. 18, 2010. Kent State has not scored a point against Penn State in 11 quarters, dating to the opening quarter of a 32-10 loss in 2003.

On offense, the Nittany Lions’ three-pronged running attack remains their strength.

While Hackenberg struggled on a sloppy, rain-soaked day in going 13 of 35 for 176 yards passing, Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch combined for 278 yards rushing and scored all four touchdowns. Zwinak scored three times for the second consecutive week, while Belton opened the scoring with a 15-yard catch.

O’Brien blamed himself for being slow to lean on his ground game, especially to start the third quarter when Penn State held a 14-0 lead.

After Belton opened the third quarter with three runs for 34 yards, O’Brien became pass-happy. Penn State attempted one run on the next 10 plays, during which Hackenberg completed 1 of 9 attempts for 8 yards and an interception.

The second-year coach took the blame.

“I wish I had a couple of play calls back,” O’Brien said. “There was one series where I threw the ball three plays in a row, and I should’ve been booed on that.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • aaaba 0721 Martella’s sweeps past Delweld

    A six-run rally in the first helped guide Martella’s Pharmacy to an 8-1 win over Delweld in Game 3 of their best-of-5 AAABA League semifinal series at Point Stadium, sweeping the series in the process.
    That rally also continued season-long trends for the clubs, according to their respective managers.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • warshel_0721 Warshel selecting UPJ

    For Kelci Warshel, the call to attend Pitt-Johnstown was based on the availability of her desired major – nursing.
    Taking an opportunity to join the university’s women’s track and field program was a very nice add-on and one that the Richland High graduate is ready to jump into ...
    ... Or hurdle over.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitt picked sixth in cluttered Coastal

    Florida State was an obvious choice as a favorite in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisions.
    In the other one, the pecking order was nowhere near that clear.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local Sports Briefs

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Bedford gets past Clearfield

    Bedford’s Jake Stover had two hits with double and three RBIs in a 9-6 win against host Clearfield in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Claysburg edges Beech Creek

    Claysburg’s Mike Mock went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to help his squad get by Beech Creek 7-6 during Sunday’s winners-bracket game in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts
Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide