Running backs impress
STATE COLLEGE – Highlights, lowlights, and in-betweens of Penn State’s Blue-White scrimmage Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The Blue won, 67-47, based on a scoring system that also awarded big plays on both sides of the ball.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Reserve running back Deron Thompson finished with 97 yards on 12 carries. Akeel Lynch also impressed in the backfield with 13 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sophomore defensive tackle Austin Johnson tied for a game-high five tackles. He also had two sacks.
SPRING AWARDS: Jim O’Hora (defense): Defensive end C.J. Olanyan and cornerback Jordan Lucas. Red Worrell (offense): Center Ty Howle. Frank Patrick (total commitment): Linebacker Mike Hull, offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach.
BOSTON: Beaver Stadium held a moment of silence before kickoffs for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, followed by Boston band the Dropkick Murphys on the PA.
Coach Bill O’Brien was raised in Andover, Mass., a Boston suburb, coached with the New England Patriots, and has several ties to the city.
“I don’t know anyone personally affected, but there are friends of friends,” said O’Brien. “A friend from Brown, his daughter was across the street with her third-grade class watching the finish when the bomb went off”
“I feel terrible. It was interesting watching that press conference last night. Like Obama said, Boston is a resilient city,” said O’Brien. “We caught him last night, that was good.”
WILLIAMSPORT: Receiver Jared Fagnano blocked on the kickoff return team.
HUGHESVILLE: Defensive end Brent Smith blocked on the kickoff return team and played some defense. He finished with two tackles.
BEST RUN: Thompson broke a 41-yard run down the sideline late in the third quarter for the White, the longest gain of the day. It also earned two points under the game’s scoring system for big plays.
BEST CATCH: Jesse James was credited for catching a 27-yard touchdown from Tyler Ferguson for the White in the second quarter. James bobbled the throw and may have not had possession before rolling out of bounds, a play that might have been overturned by instant replay in the fall. It was the game’s longest pass play.
BAD HANDS: Brent Wilkerson dropped a 10-yard bootleg from D.J. Crook in the fourth quarter that would have drawn groans in October.
WORST KICKS: Sam Ficken’s missed 37-yarder in the second quarter was 3 points fans will expect in the fall. He also missed an extra point in the fourth quarter, reminding fans of his early 2012 struggles.
“It’s all about the entire operation,” said O’Brien, who experimented with punter Alex Butterworth holding. “I know Sam is an improved kicker.”
BEST HIT: Blue linebacker Nyeem Wartman leveled running back Deron Thompson on a short pass over the middle in the first quarter.
NICE TRY: O’Brien took over PA duties in the third quarter and tried to start the wave. Some fans obliged, but a full wave never circled the stands.
HEADS-UP: Corner Jesse Merise dove and intercepted a tipped pass over the middle in the second quarter.
PERSONNEL: Zwinak iced his wrist on the bench after playing in the first series. He did not return, apparently as a precaution. O’Brien said he did not know his status after the game.
WHITEOUT: A burst of snow blowing sideways fell during much of the first quarter. It gave way to sunshine in the second quarter.
“First it was a blizzard, then it felt like 70 and sunny. Reminded me of Cape Cod,” said O’Brien.
NEXT GAME: Penn State opens the 2013 season on Saturday, Aug. 31, vs. Syracuse at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.