MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Kelly knows what it feels like to be in
Jason Giannini's shoes.
After watching Giannini shank the extra point in overtime that
ultimately cost Minnesota the game against Penn State on Saturday,
Kelly went looking for his fellow kicker, but couldn't find him.
Penn State already has more losses this season (2) than it had all of last season (1). If history is any indicator, the Nittany Lions may be in store for a few more L's before all is said and done. The last three times Joe Paterno's pack has finished a season with a winning record, the next year was none too happy in Happy Valley.
"Definitely, it's really frustrating when that happens,
especially in overtime," said Kelly, who missed two short field
goals against Florida State in the Orange Bowl last season before
kicking the winner in the third overtime. "I've been in that
situation before and I'm feeling for him."
Tony Hunt rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, the last in
overtime, and Kelly made his extra point to lift Penn State to a
28-27 victory over Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) took advantage of
Giannini's miss and a questionable pass interference call to get
their first road victory of the season.
Bryan Cupito threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns, the last
one a 25-yarder to Eric Decker that gave the Gophers (2-4, 0-3) a
27-21 lead in overtime. But Giannini, who missed eight extra-point
attempts last season and already had one blocked this year, hit the
left upright with his kick.
Giannini was unavailable for comment.
"What do you do to console him?" Gophers coach Glen Mason
said. "I'm sure he's down. You expect to make those things. ...
But that's why you kick it, because it's not automatic. I feel for
The Gophers still appeared to be in good shape with Penn State
facing a fourth-and-9 from the 24. But Trumaine Banks was called
for pass interference for what appeared to be a clean breakup of
Anthony Morelli's throw to Deon Butler, giving the Lions a first
down at the 12.
Derrick Williams rushed 10 yards to the 2, and Hunt capped a
workhorse day with a tough run to tie the game. Kelly then drilled
the extra point to allow the Lions to escape with the win.
"I thought we made the play, the game was over, and I was
halfway across the field and saw the flag fly," Mason said of
Banks' penalty. "I hope it was a blatant foul on my guy. I hope
Kelly's kick capped a wild day in the Metrodome for the Nittany
Lions, who came out sluggish and couldn't put the game away.
The Gophers trailed 14-7 going into halftime, and the student
section was booing and chanting "Fire Mason!" after the coach's
conservative approach allowed the Lions to get the ball near
midfield and score a quick TD before the break.
Those boos turned to cheers when Cupito led a furious comeback
late in the game.
Morelli threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns despite playing
with a dislocated ring finger on his left (non-throwing) hand. The
last score gave Penn State a 21-14 lead with 5:30 to play.
Penn State still held that lead when the Gophers took the ball
at their own 14 with 2:33 to go, but Cupito drove Minnesota 86
yards in 1:31 to tie the game. He hit Logan Payne with a 43-yard
pass on fourth-and-3, then connected with Matt Spaeth on a
30-yarder to set up Amir Pinnix's 1-yard TD run made it 21-all with
just over a minute to go.
Pinnix rushed for 76 yards and two scores for Minnesota, which
couldn't take advantage of several Penn State mistakes and remains
winless in the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions missed one field goal, had a botched hold on
another that resulted in an interception, fumbled after a long pass
play had them deep in Gopher territory and were stuffed on a
fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 10.
"Roller coaster," Pinnix said. "That's a good way to explain
Hunt carried Penn State for most of the game, and it was fitting
that he won it in overtime.
Hunt rushed 31 times and became the first Penn State back to top
100 yards in four straight games since Larry Johnson did it in
2002. While nowhere near as flashy as Johnson, the soft-spoken
power back pounded the Gophers all day long, including on a
marathon drive in the fourth quarter that chewed up 7:25.
With the game tied at 14, Hunt carried eight times for 47 yards
during the 13-play, 82-yard drive. With all eyes on Hunt on
third-and-goal from the Minnesota 7, Morelli faked the handoff to
him and hit a wide-open Matt Hahn in the flat for the 21-14.
"It feels good to run the ball like that," Hunt said. "I like
getting a lot of carries. The more, the better."