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Wisconsin at Penn State

Penn St. 24, Wisconsin 21, OT


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Sam Ficken hit a 37-yard field goal in overtime, and Wisconsin's Kyle French attempt from 44 yards went wide left to seal Penn State's 24-21 win Saturday in an emotional season finale in Happy Valley.

The Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) could have ended it for good a play earlier, but linebacker Glenn Carson dropped a potential interception.

Still, the Beaver Stadium faithful celebrated anyway after French's miss on Senior Day capped a challenging year that began with landmark sanctions from the NCAA for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Quarterback Curt Phillips found Jeff Duckworth for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left for Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4) to make it 21-all and send the game into overtime.

Badgers star running back Montee Ball ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, and set the NCAA record with his 97th career score.

But his record-setting day was overshadowed by bruising Penn State running back Zach Zwinak (career-high 179 yards and one score) and the late-game heroics of Ficken, who made all three field-goal attempts on the afternoon.

The last one made it just inside the left upright through light flurries - but it was good enough for the decisive score.

The players rushed in jubilation after French's missed kick. Injured star linebacker Michael Mauti raised his hands in victory as he hobbled with his teammates to the sing alma mater in front of the student section.

Mauti and the seniors were instrumental in helping to keep most of the team together after the NCAA levied its landmark sanctions in July. Most preseason prognosticators thought the Nittany Lions wouldn't even finish with a winning record this year.

Instead, they rallied to win eight of 10 after an 0-2 start.

"This is a very special team because of the players and because of these seniors," first-year coach Bill O'Brien said.

Penn State's uptempo "NASCAR" offense was frustrated in the first half before roaring back after halftime. Quarterback Matt McGloin found Jesse James crossing over the middle on fourth-and 6, and the freshman tight end outraced cornerback Darius Hillary to the front pylon of the end zone with 13:32 left in the game. Zwinak ran for a 2-point conversion to make it 21-14.

But the Badgers weren't done at chilly Beaver Stadium.

A drive before Phillips connected with Duckworth for the game-tying score, Wisconsin got to the 20, but senior safety Jacob Fagnano stepped in front of a double-covered receiver Jared Abbredaris on fourth-and-8 to intercept Phillips. He finished 12 of 25 passing for 191 yards with two touchdowns and score.

Wisconsin lost its second straight - not the kind of momentum coach Bret Bielema was hoping for entering next week's Big Ten title game.

The Badgers finished the regular season in third place in the Leaders Division behind unbeaten Ohio State and Penn State, but still claimed the title game berth because the two teams ahead of them are ineligible due to sanctions.

Penn State's season is over, but O'Brien had the Nittany Lions playing with grit and determination all year long amid unprecedented circumstances and media scrutiny. The fans at 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium, which was about two-thirds full on a cold afternoon, roared with approval for their beloved Nittany Lions, especially the injured Mauti.

The defense could have used its star linebacker, especially in up-and-down first quarter highlighted by Ball's record-setting run from 17 yards with 6:27 left in the first quarter for a 14-7 Wisconsin lead.

The senior tailback clutched the ball tightly in his right arm while getting pats on the helmet from teammates following his 79th career touchdown, broke a tie for the major college mark previously set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) in 1999.

But with Mauti out, Carson (13 tackles) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (12 tackles, two sacks) took over down the stretch. Hill was a constant presence in the Wisconsin backfield to frustrate Phillips and Ball.

Wisconsin played without its own star linebacker in Chris Borland, who sat out his second straight game with a right hamstring injury.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Scoring Summary
WISCMelvin Gordon 57 yd pass from Curt Phillips (Kyle French kick)
PSUZach Zwinak 3 yd run (Sam Ficken kick)
WISCMontee Ball 17 yd run (Kyle French kick)
PSUSam Ficken 23 yd FG
PSUSam Ficken 32 yd FG
PSUJesse James 41 yd pass from Matt McGloin (ZACH ZWINAK 2pt run)
WISCJeff Duckworth 4 yd pass from Curt Phillips (Kyle French kick)
PSUSam Ficken 37 yd FG
Team Stats
First Downs1620
Third Down Efficiency5-169-20
Fourth Down Efficiency1-21-1
Plays-Net Yards68-34982-363
Passing Yds191200
Kick Return Yds11450
Punt Return Yds-33
Time of Poss.28:1531:45
Individual Stats
WISC: Montee Ball 27-111, Jared Abbrederis 1-24, James White 7-13, Melvin Gordon 1-9, Derek Watt 1-2, Curt Phillips 6--1
PSU: Zach Zwinak 36-179, Michael Zordich 5-8, Team 1--1, Matt McGloin 3--23
WISC: Curt Phillips 12-25-191-1
PSU: Matt McGloin 19-37-200-0
WISC: Jared Abbrederis 3-35, Derek Watt 2-45, Jordan Fredrick 2-28, Melvin Gordon 1-57, Kenzel Doe 1-10, Jacob Pedersen 1-7, Chase Hammond 1-5, Jeff Duckworth 1-4
PSU: Allen Robinson 4-35, Jesse James 3-90, Alex Kenney 3-28, Zach Zwinak 3-5, Matt Lehman 2-22, Brandon Moseby-Felder 1-10, Michael Zordich 1-7, Garry Gilliam 1-5, Trevor Williams 1--2
Wisconsin1st Big Ten West7-110-3
Penn State6th Big Ten East2-66-6

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