JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. —
By JIM CARLSON
The Associated Press
STATE COLLEGE – The special teams problems that cost Penn State in its loss to Nebraska went beyond a couple of missed kicks.
Sam Ficken missed an extra point in the first quarter and a 37-yard field goal attempt in overtime as the Nittany Lions lost 23-20 on Saturday.
Ficken’s overtime miss wasn’t a game-winning attempt, but it allowed Nebraska to keep the ball in the middle of the field during its ensuing possession and give kicker Pat Smith a chance to win it with a 42-yard boot – which he did.
“You feel for a guy like that,” Smith said about his kicking counterpart. “You’re not wishing for the worst for that guy.
Penn State also allowed Kenny Bell to return a kickoff 99 yards for a score in the third quarter and had a punt blocked. In the last five games, Penn State’s kickoff return team has allowed 511 return yards and two touchdowns on 17 kickoffs.
“Offensively, we did well in some spots but in some spots we didn’t do as well,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “We didn’t hold up our end of the bargain. The defense played a good game but it’s a team game and we lost as a team.”
The Lions (6-6, 3-4) outgained Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) from the line of scrimmage 387-360 and had one less turnover.
Ficken has had an up-and-down career at Penn State. He was 14 for 21 in field goal attempts last year, but kicked well down the stretch after a horrendous start to the season. This season, he is 14 for 20.
“It’s never one person’s fault,” Penn State fullback Pat Zerbe said. “Sam is a great kicker and I know he played as hard as he could.
“We all played as hard as we could, so it is not his fault at all.”
Penn State tight end Jesse James, who had a 46-yard touchdown reception, is one of Ficken’s roommates.
“Sam’s a tough kid,” James said. “He already knows how it works. He’s had tough games before and he’s had great games. He’s been through a lot. He’ll bounce back.”
Penn State will have to win at No. 14 Wisconsin (9-2) on Saturday to avoid a .500 season.
The Lions beat the Badgers in overtime on a Ficken kick in last year’s season finale and improve to 8-4 in O’Brien’s rookie year.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. —
By JIM CARLSON
Four local wrestlers have chance for PIAA gold
Four local wrestlers will compete tonight for a spot in the state finals at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.
Moving on up | Nine grapplers advance to AA quarterfinals
Bedford’s Garrett Thomas said he wasn’t nervous at all.
United’s Tyler Oliver admitted that he was, even if he told his coaches that he wasn’t.
And Richland’s Nico Pecora said the pressure is on his family members, not him.
Nervous or not, those three, who were making their state tournament debuts, and six other local wrestlers won their first match at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships on Thursday morning to qualify for today’s quarterfinal round.
Day 1 gives ups and downs for region
There was plenty of talk about roller coasters on Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center, but it had nothing to do with the thrill rides across the parking lot at Hersheypark.
It was all about the ups and downs of the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.
Berlin boys wary of Trojans’ size, athleticism
On the same night last week that Berlin Brothersvalley was winning its first District 5-A title since 2007, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic was losing to eventual champion Lincoln Park in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
The Mountaineers (23-2), one of three area boys district champions set to begin opening-round action in the PIAA playoffs tonight, and Trojans (15-10) will square off this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center, site of Berlin’s 65-51 district championship win over Forbes Road.
Tomahawks return home to face Jets
Johnstown Tomahawks coach Jason Spence knows numbers can be deceiving.
For instance, the Tomahawks’ Matt Meier had two goals and three points on Saturday night. Goaltender Brett Young made 41 saves.
Those statistics are impressive for 60 minutes of work. Both players had solid efforts, especially during a road game. On paper, the numbers looked good enough for a victory.
Danel helping Falcons to Division III tournament
When Chelsea Danel was a senior at North Star, the Cougars were able to win a District 5-AA basketball title.
Now Danel, a senior at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, is a key contributor on a Falcons’ hoops squad which upset top-seeded Lebanon Valley 53-47 in the Commonwealth Conference championship on Saturday. It was the ninth title for the Falcons in 13 appearances.
Pirates, Jays rained out
The Toronto Blue Jays' spring training game at the Pittsburgh Pirates was rained out Thursday.
The game will not be made up.
Ferndale grad aiding Duquesne women’s hoops
Matt Schmidt was hired as an assistant coach for the Duquesne women’s basketball team in June.
Now the former Ferndale High School standout will have his first opportunity to experience March madness with the Dukes, who are the sixth-seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament which opened Thursday in Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va.
Icecats on way to national tournament
The Pitt-Johnstown hockey team needed to overcome some long odds to advance to the ACHA Men’s Division III national championship tournament in Coral Springs, Fla. next week.
- Local Sports Briefs 3-7-14
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- Four local wrestlers have chance for PIAA gold