Incredible show of support at Penn State

Fans surround the Penn State football team as it arrives by bus Saturday at Beaver Stadium for the season opener against Ohio.
Fans surround the Penn State football team as it arrives by bus Saturday at Beaver Stadium for the season opener against Ohio. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 05, 2012

STATE COLLEGE - It was a hell of a bus ride.

Coach Bill O'Brien's new era of Penn State football might have gotten off on the wrong foot with a 24-14 loss to Ohio on Saturday, but the atmosphere surrounding the Nittany Lions' 2012 season opener was a special one - from the hopeful beginning to the undesirable ending.

"That was, I guess you would say, the best bus ride we've had since I've been here," said senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill. "We had so much support starting from the beginning of the route, it was crazy . . . I knew it was gonna be crazy but I didn't think it would be that crazy."

After an "unprecedented" summer, Penn Staters were finally able to again enjoy their most well-known tradition.

More than 600 other Penn State student-athletes took to the field before the game to support Penn State's "#OneTeam" mantra before 97,186 fans.

The verse of the Alma Mater, "May no act of ours bring shame," was sung with more passion than the rest of it.

"It was incredible," senior running back Derek Day said of the atmosphere. "I'll tell you what, I don't think I've ever seen that many people waiting for us when the buses arrived today for a noon game. Maybe a prime-time, 8 o'clock night game, but I don't think I've ever seen that many people and this is my fifth year."

A few players, like senior center Matt Stankiewitch, noted that the atmosphere is always great at Penn State football games.

Still, one could feel some excitement deflating when the momentum shifted. After leading, 14-3, at halftime, Penn State saw Ohio score three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to win it. After one particular play in which Penn State safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong nearly intercepted a pass but Ohio made a touchdown out of it, the stadium seemed to get punched in the gut.

After the game, O'Brien was extremely terse with his responses, a la Eagles head coach Andy Reid. He repeatedly said he needed to coach better and that things start with him.

"All of us individually gotta go out here for the next four or five practices and gotta be able to gel together and be able to do better in crises like when we were down, 17-14, and they came and scored that last touchdown," said redshirt freshman lineman Deion Barnes.

The Lions are the underdog for their next game Saturday at Virginia. When asked how they will prepare, players said the procedure won't be different from the week after any other loss.

They might have lost, but at least Penn State got to play football again.

"It means a lot to come out and keep playing football and showing the country and the world that Penn State is a great place," said junior guard John Urschel, "and we're still fighting."

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|