Saturday, September 15, 2012
Instant analysis: Penn State 34, Navy 7
By Josh Moyer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State rebounded from an 0-2 start behind a strong offensive effort and opportunistic defense Saturday.
The Nittany Lions (1-2) forced three turnovers and finished with 341 total yards in a 34-7 victory over Navy. The Midshipmen's secondary couldn't adjust to Matt McGloin, who found eight different receivers and threw for 231 yards.
The win comes at a critical time for Penn State, which hasn't started 0-3 since 2001. Navy drops to 0-2 with the loss.
It was over when: McGloin connected with Allen Robinson on a 45-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter. McGloin threw the pass about 20 yards, but Robinson faked a defender, cut inside and sprinted another 25 yards for the score. That put Penn State ahead 14-0 and set the tone with PSU's passing game. Navy never recovered.
The game ball goes to: Robinson. He made three big plays, all three of which occurred on touchdown drives, and helped PSU threaten with the deep ball -- something it hadn't yet done entering this game. He finished with five catches for 136 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat of the game: Two, the number of turnovers that Penn State turned into touchdowns. The Nittany Lions couldn't capitalize last week off four turnovers but did better with three turnovers against Navy -- including a 74-yard fumble return by linebacker Mike Hull.
Unsung heroes: Curtis Dukes and Michael Zordich. They weren't flashy, they didn't have a lot of stats, but they made the most out of each of their 22 combined carries. The bruising duo helped fill the void of Penn State's top two tailbacks, Bill Belton and Derek Day, who were both out with injuries. Dukes ran for 47 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and Zordich had 11 carries for 50 yards.
What it means: Finishing around .500 remains a possibility. A loss here would have shut the door on Penn State finishing 6-6. It drove downfield against Virginia but couldn't find the end zone. Here, it finally put everything together and looked good against an overmatched Navy squad. Penn State showed it can impress offensively; the only question left is whether it can do that consistently.