12:00 PM ET, October 7, 2006
The Metrodome, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
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.
"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 kid."
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 that."
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 it."
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."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||5-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-2|
|TD||11:56||MATT SPAETH 30 YD PASS FROM BRYAN CUPITO (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||3:19||TONY HUNT 6 YD RUN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 9 yards.
|TD||0:28||TONY HUNT 15 YD PASS FROM ANTHONY MORELLI (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||12:55||AMIR PINNIX 4 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||5:30||MATT HAHN 7 YD PASS FROM ANTHONY MORELLI (KEVIN KELLY KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 82 yards.
|TD||1:02||AMIR PINNIX 1 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 86 yards.
|TD||0:00||ERIC DECKER 25 YD PASS FROM BRYAN CUPITO (MISSED KICK)||21||27|
|TD||0:00||TONY HUNT 2 YD RUN (KEVIN KELLY KICK)||28||27|