|Michael Rocco threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winning score, in the 17-16 win. (AP)|
Penn State's offense showed significant improvement, but 333 total yards of offense wasn't enough to make up for four missed field goals from kicker Sam Ficken, and the Nittany Lions fell 17-16 to Virginia. It is the first time Penn State has started 0-2 since the 2001 season.
Matt McGloin led a 10 play drive in 1:28 to give Ficken a chance to win the game as time expired, but the sophomore's 42 yard field goal attempt went wide left. McGloin suffered an elbow injury in the second quarter, but played through it in a 197 yard, two touchdown performance. The Nittany Lions outgained Virginia on the ground 121-32, with Derek Day and Curtis Dukes carrying the load for the injured starter Bill Belton.
It was a significantly improved performance from a week ago, but the stout defense and inspired play from the backups could not make up for the points left on the field due to missed field goals. Silas Redd and Devon Smith may have been the most notable transfers as a result of NCAA sanctions, but the most impactful - at least so far - has been kicker Anthony Fera - now at Texas.
Credit Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco for leading the Cavaliers on a game-winning touchdown drive that lasted 12 plays, 6:36 of game time, and nearly stalled on three different occasions. With five minutes left, Virginia coach Mike London used his final timeout to organize the offense as they faced 3rd and 11 from their own 27 yard line. Rocco his Jake McGee for a 44 yard conversion, then Darius Jennings took a screen pass 24 yards down the sideline three plays later. Before you knew it, Virginia had the ball inside the ten with a chance to win.
It was not a pretty win for Virginia, but they figured out a way to get it done. The offensive line was pushed around up front by Penn State, and the Nittany Lions' linebackers - led by senior Michael Mauti - were able to penetrate into the backfield most of the game. Michael Rocco took a seat in the third quarter after fumbling a snap, allowing Alabama transfer Phillip Sims to have a shot at creating some offense. Even the more mobile Sims was unable to shake Penn State's presure, and both of his drives under center resulted in three downs and a punt.
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