Penn State’s defense dominant in battle for 1st-place in Big Ten

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoSTATE COLLEGE, PA — Wisconsin coaches knew it was going to take a special defensive performance to earn a victory at Penn State Saturday.They were right. But unfortunately for them, the wrong squad came up with the show-stopping defensive performance.In a matchup of the conference’s top-scoring offense and stingiest defense, it was Penn State’s defense that won the battle, leading the Nittany Lions (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) to a 35-14 win in front of 109,865 fans, the second-largest crowd in PSU history, at Beaver Stadium Saturday evening.”It’s frustrating, disappointing — obviously we got our butts kicked so there’s nothing more frustrating than that,” tailback Brian Calhoun said.The Lions now hold their conference championship fate in their own hands, as Penn State, which enjoys a bye this week, is set to take lone possession of the Big Ten crown with a victory over Michigan State Nov. 19.The Lions hold the tie-breaker over Ohio State, the Big Ten’s only other team with one loss, by virtue of their 17-10 victory over the Buckeyes earlier this season.Alternately, the loss drops the Badgers (8-2, 5-2) out of contention for a Bowl Championship Series game for the second time in as many years. It also marks the second consecutive season Wisconsin has let its conference title dreams fall from its own hands.”It’s very disappointing,” wide receiver Brandon Williams said. “Having a shot two years in a row where you’ve only got to win one more game to be Big Ten champion, and you just can’t get it done, it’s very painful.”Fueled by an emotional high courtesy of Senior Day festivities for 23 PSU players, the Nittany Lion defense gave the high-octane Wisconsin offense fits from start to finish, as the Badgers were never able to find a rhythm. The Penn State defensive front dominated the Badger offensive line consistently, holding Calhoun in check, allowing the junior only 38 rushing yards on 20 carries.Wisconsin also failed to find any success through the air, as the relentless Nittany Lion pass rush sent quarterback John Stocco flailing to the turf on nine separate occasions, four courtesy of senior defensive end Tamba Hali.”We allowed way too many sacks, and way too many pressures, we didn’t give John enough time to work back there,” junior left tackle Joe Thomas said. “Their four defensive linemen and three linebackers are outstanding — there’s no weak links … they really out-played us today.”Wisconsin appeared to figure out the Lion defense at the open of the second quarter, driving the ball all the way down to the Penn State five-yard line. But on second-and-goal, Stocco was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Alan Zemaitis.After being flushed to his right, Stocco tried to throw the ball high to tight end Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone, but didn’t get it high enough as Zemaitis made a diving play on the ball to stuff the Badger drive.”I was trying to make a play,” Stocco said. “I think they just did a great job executing and that’s a very good defense.”For the second consecutive week the defense struggled to contain the opposing team’s quarterback, as Michael Robinson became the second quarterback in as many weeks to rush for over 100 yards against UW.Robinson, who led PSU to a quick 21-0 lead in the first half, added 238 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go along with his 125-yard rushing performance as the senior became PSU’s single-season total yardage leader, breaking Kerry Collins’ 1994 record of 2,660 yards.”It’s not a good taste at all,” defensive tackle Mike Newkirk said. “It shouldn’t get to that point. We shouldn’t have to give up 21 points just for us to get 3-and-outs, and getting off the field and putting our offense in positions to do what they do. Overall it’s a disappointment.”Wisconsin now returns to Madison, where they will try to avoid a similar fate to the one endured last season when Wisconsin dropped its final two conference games of the season. However, Alvarez believes the loss changes little for his team, reiterating that his squad’s preseason goals remain intact.”Our goals haven’t changed,” Alvarez said. “We can knock three of them off [this] week and reach every goal that we set. One of them is a January 1st bowl game. I think if we win next week we have a chance to play in one.”last_img read more

No. 7 Syracuse’s defense holds strong but can’t finish in 13-8 loss at No. 9 Cornell

first_img Published on April 10, 2018 at 10:59 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44 ITHACA, N.Y. — Syracuse’s Dom Madonna did what he could, sprawling low to deflect a fast break opportunity. With SU already set to go a man-down following a Tucker Dordevic penalty, Madonna denied the initial scoring chance but failed to maintain possession. Instead, the ball bounced to the corner, and the Big Red’s possession continued.Again, on the next feed, Syracuse seemed to stop Cornell. An Orange long pole deflected a pass, leaving the ball on the carpet for SU defender Nick Mellen. The ball took an off-bounce, Mellen bobbled the pickup, and Cornell’s Clarke Petterson buried another Cornell goal.“We didn’t play absolutely terrible,” Mellen said. “They got a bunch of goals off broken plays and passes that somehow went to the ground and somehow went to their stick.”On Tuesday night at Schoellkopf Field, No. 7 Syracuse’s (6-4, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) defense held strong at times but couldn’t finish in a 13-8 loss to No. 9 Cornell (8-3, 3-1 Ivy league). The Big Red’s offense entered riding a four-game winning streak in which it averaged more than 20 goals. It ranked first in goals per game (15.30), assists per game (10.50), points per game (25.80) and shooting percentage (.418). Yet Syracuse held it scoreless for more than 13 minutes in the second quarter and more than eight minutes in the third.Still, Cornell finished enough. In a game with nearly equal shots on goal and an even faceoff distribution, the Big Red hammered SU on the ground. It scooped 43 groundballs to the Orange’s 30. Five of Cornell’s goals came off second-chance opportunities where it had already shot earlier in the possession.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Just going into this game I think we knew it was going to scrap; it was going to be a battle,” said Cornell attack Jeff Teat, who had six points. “I think we scraped off second-chance opportunities and finished plays when we need to.”Cornell dumped in four goals before 10 minutes had ticked off the clock. After the Big Red saved a Bradley Voigt shot, the agonizing possessions began for SU. With the Orange trailing by two goals at the time, Teat scooped up a ball off what could’ve been a Cornell turnover a minute into the possession. Then he fired a shot off an SU defender, but Cornell’s Connor Fletcher nabbed the groundball.The ball eventually worked its way back to Teat. He was covered tightly but whipped a behind-the-back pass into traffic anyway. The ball jostled through a crowd of SU defenders before bouncing on the ground. Cornell attack John Piatelli scooped the ball off the hop, making it appear as if the bounce pass was intentional. Moments later, Piatelli’s low crank shot dribbled in after deflecting off the goalkeeper.“I thought it was OK considering how much they had the ball,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said. “We just can’t let them get the inside stuff.”Throughout the night, Syracuse’s defense looked like a football defense that was excellent on the first two downs but faltered on the third, or a basketball defense stellar at contesting shots but horrible at boxing out.Syracuse’s version of those came when the defense flashed a glimmer of hope. Mellen caused a turnover on Teat behind the cage, simply poking the ball right out of the nation’s leading point scorer’s stick. On SU’s next possession, Cornell did the same, forcing David Lipka into a turnover.Again, Mellen forced a turnover. Mellen rode Teat down the right hash marks, the same place he had been beaten for a goal in the first quarter, and swatted the ball out of Teat’s stick. With Teat falling to the ground, Mellen scooped the ground ball and gave SU a possession, which led to a goal.Then came another lengthy possession. Syracuse denied Cornell for more than two minutes. Madonna’s save once again left the ball loose. Cornell missed the net on its next shot. Then, with Teat standing nearly flat-footed at the top of the X, he fed an open cutter for a Cornell goal.“You have to understand that’s just the way it goes,” Mellen said. “Sometimes we’re going to get a couple big stops and we try to clear it and turn it over or we get down to the offense and they just get a quick turnover. That’s just something we need to work on.”Moments before Mellen spoke, explaining how SU’s defense hadn’t played as bad as the scoreboard may have portrayed, Cornell’s players celebrated.The Big Red players gathered in front of the entrance to Schoellkopf Field, rose their hands and hooted and hollered in celebration as their photo was taken. In Cornell’s best win since 2014, it didn’t matter how well Syracuse’s defense had played. The scoreboard didn’t reflect it. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Texans fire GM Brian Gaine less than 2 years into 5-year deal

first_imgStatement from #Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair on Brian Gaine: pic.twitter.com/tpPJvR0cYB— Texans PR (@TexansPR) June 7, 2019Gaine was hired as the Texans’ GM in January 2018 after previous general manager Rick Smith stepped down to take care of his wife, who is battling cancer.The Texans went 11-5 and won the AFC South but lost to the Colts in the wild-card round in Gaine’s lone season at the helm in Houston. Texans sign former Chargers safety Jahleel Addae Houston’s draft class this year was highly criticized by some in the industry and the team still has not come to an agreement on a long-term deal with pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney.They also did not re-sign safety Tyrann Mathieu who had success with the team in his lone year in Houston.It is unclear exactly what the breaking point was between the Texans and Gaine, but he certainly was not being praised in the general public for the moves he has made in recent months. Brian Gaine’s tenure with the Texans didn’t last long.Houston announced Friday it has fired Gaine less than two years into a five-year deal.center_img J.J. Watt strikes again, helps kid with class project “After a thorough evaluation of our football operations, we have decided to relieve Brian Gaine of his duties as general manager,” a team statement read. “Brian is a man of high character and we appreciate his contributions to our organization.”We will begin an immediate search for a new GM. In the interim, football operations will be led by senior vice president of football administration Chris Olsen. While the timing may be unusual, this decision was made in the best interest of our organization in our quest to build a championship team for the city of Houston.” Related Newslast_img read more