Mids prove no match for diminished Nittany Lions
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- In the days leading up to Navy's game at Penn State, Midshipmen slotback Bo Snelson described the Nittany Lions as a "wounded animal." In Happy Valley on Saturday, however, Penn State looked as healthy as ever, rolling to a 34-7 victory over Navy before 98,792 at Beaver Stadium.
Scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions, Penn State took control early, forcing Navy out of its clock-sapping, ball-control offense. Senior quarterback Matt McGloin completed 13 of 21 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Three of the scores went to sophomore Allen Robinson, who caught five passes for 136 yards.
The loss, combined with Navy's 50-10 opening game defeat to Notre Dame, were the two worst consecutively for the Mids since 1994, when they lost to San Diego State (56-14) and Virginia (47-10).
"They came out slinging, and we didn't defend it," Navy senior linebacker Keegan Wetzel said. "I wish we had rebounded better."
Navy committed some uncharacteristic and costly mistakes, including four turnovers, one a fumble by fullback Noah Copeland (seven carries, 15 yards) that was returned 74 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Mike Hull. Navy also committed seven penalties. Last year when the Mids were the least penalized team in the nation, they committed 28 in 12 games.
This has been a troubled season for Penn State (1-2) since it was hit hard by NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. Since the NCAA ruled that players could leave Penn State without penalty, 18 have departed, including incoming recruits. One of the hardest-hit positions has been wide receiver, where the Nittany Lions have lost their top three.
But Navy still had no answer for Penn State's fourth best entering the preseason. In the first nine minutes, the 6-foot-3 Robinson burned the Mids for a pair of 45-yard receptions, the second for a touchdown. In the second half, Robinson was in the right place at the right time, clutching a 25-yard pass in the end zone after it was tipped by another Penn State receiver.
It was another rough game for Navy quarterback Trey Miller, who rushed 18 times for 21 yards and completed six of 12 passes for 17 yards. The junior also had three fumbles, including two recovered by Penn State, and was intercepted in the end zone by Nittany Lions linebacker Gerald Hodges.
Miller was replaced in the third quarter by freshman Keenan Reynolds, who directed Navy's lone scoring drive. With Gee Gee Green's 12-yard touchdown carry in the fourth quarter, the Mids averted their first shutout since a loss to Connecticut in 2002.
Navy's schedule now gets considerably easier. The rest of the way, the Mids will play only one other school from a BCS conference, Indiana. Next up is VMI of the FCS on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.