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Penn State Fans Rejoice After Thrilling Last Moment Victory

by on August 30, 2014 12:54 PM

The mood was tense, and the room – for a rare moment – was quiet.

After leading all game, Penn State was down by one point after a touchdown put the University of Central Florida ahead late in the last quarter. With a scant three seconds left, Sam Ficken lined up for a final field goal attempt -- with the outcome hanging in the balance.

Jason Donehower, a Penn State senior who watched the game at Champ’s Sports Grill, thought the game was over. In his head, he’d already moved on – we had lost.

He admits, somewhat sheepishly, that he didn’t have enough confidence in Ficken.

Then the senior kicker sent the ball barreling through the goal posts, and the room erupted. Strangers embraced, fans jumped up and down on their chairs and the TV was drowned out by the deafening roar of fans in the throes of celebration.

“I felt like my heart was going to pop right out of my chest,” Penn State senior Tory Tatone says. “But I knew Ficken had it in him!”

With a final score of 26-24, Saturday’s game in Dublin, Ireland was a thrilling start to James Franklin’s first season with the Nittany Lions.

State College resident Chris Buchignani was among the most passionate fans at Champs, reacting with a crazed frenzy as Penn State consistently pulled points out of unlikely situations.

After one touchdown in the third quarter, he leaped from his chair with his fists raised in triumph, high-fived the man at the table across the aisle, then gripped the back of his chair, lifted it slightly and slammed it back to the ground – screaming and cheering all the while.

Buchignani says the fact the game itself was all the way in Dublin did nothing to curb the enthusiasm of the fans, gesturing to the room full of the blue and white faithful.

Alex Landress, a Penn State first-year student, was disappointed at having one less home game this weekend, but says that everyone from the fans to the bars and restaurants that opened early still showed support for the Nittany Lions.

“I think we looked good out there,” Landers says. “The offense was playing really well, and the team was showing a very aggressive approach – which I love.”

Kildares, the local Irish pub downtown, gave many fans a little taste of Dublin as they watched Saturday’s hard-fought battle. While watching the game there, Penn State senior Mike Cunningham was impressed by how strong the Nittany Lions came out of the gate.

He says he does miss the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium, but adds that he’s glad to be generating positive international attention for the university and the football program.

“I’m loving the way this program is going, and I’m loving James Franklin,” Tatone says. “There’s just nothing better than victory on opening day.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a general assignment reporter for StateCollege.com, a graduate of Penn State and a published poet. He's also a musician who plays bass in an indie rock band.
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