Since last November, this once-proud program has been bombarded with bad news, starting with the Jerry Sandusky charges of child sex abuse. From then to now has been a series of ugly and disheartening transgressions that included coach Joe Paterno’s firing, Sandusky being found guilty of 43 charges of child sex abuse, the program hit with near-fatal NCAA sanctions, player defecting to other programs, among other not-so-pleasing events.
Saturday, the Nittany Lions beat Navy 34-7 at their stadium in Happy Valley, and, for the first time in a long time, there were unabashed smiles on campus.
Matt McGloin threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns and Penn State earned its first win for rookie coach Bill O’Brien’s.
The Nittany Lions (1-2) rolled to the morale-boosting win following two draining losses to open a season of change in Happy Valley.
Penn State hadn’t won a football game since last Nov. 19 at Ohio State. Soon after, Sandusky was charged with child sex abuse and things crumbled. Saturday seemed a long way from the mess.
“I felt very good for this football team,” O’Brien said. “It was a long time coming.”
Allen Robinson had three touchdowns and 136 yards on five catches, while the defense forced four turnovers including Mike Hull’s 74-yard fumble return to make it 34-0 in the fourth quarter.
Faint chants of “Bill O’Brien” echoed out of the stands after the two teams exchanged handshakes at midfield following the final whistle. The Nittany Lions avoided going 0-3 for the first time since 2001.
“This is a great group of kids,” he said. “I just feel great for these football players here at Penn State today.”