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Penn State Football: Ficken Adds Another Kick To Catalog Of Successes And Failures

by on August 30, 2014 4:30 PM

"No."

That's all James Franklin said when asked about wind playing a factor heading into the game this weekend.

The breeze wasn't strong Saturday as Penn State took the field but it may have just helped the Nittany Lions win the game.

"I didn't hit it real good to be honest," Sam Ficken said of his game winning field goal. "I kind of chopped it a little bit. It kind of went up right at the pole, the right post. I was a little nervous it might clink. But the wind pushed it back in. And as soon as I saw it go, I knew it was gonna be good."

For Ficken, Saturday's performance was another feather in his cap. He posted an impressive 4-for-4 effort including the most important make of all -- as time expired. While some may say Ficken is getting redemption after some sub-par performances earlier in  his career, Ficken has long since pushed that aside.

He owns the consecutive makes record and has had a handful of game-winning kicks. Still, the stat book may not come to his aid considering his rocky start. But he has come a long way since the slew of misses against Virginia years ago. In that 2012 game Ficken missed four field goals and Penn State lost the game 17-16.

Even so, Saturday's kick was his first make with the outcome of a game a do-or-die proposition. Ficken has been strong, he has kicked the eventual winners and in overtime, but he hasn't had a shot to win a game at the buzzer since that fateful Virginia game.

So catharsis? Perhaps.

"To come out here and to be able to help the team. When you’re presented an opportunity as a kicker, you have to seize that moment," Ficken said. "Obviously I couldn’t be happier for the guys. It was a hell of a game."

Like every position, time, experience and practice make a difference. It's all about poise and that's something Ficken has learned. It's something Penn State will need more than just on this weekend in Ireland.

"I think I have a little more poise through the trials and tribulations of career here," Ficken said. "I’ve been in that situation before. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. To grasp that experience and kind of hone it in and just not worry about what’s around me and focus on the fundamentals."

"I didn’t have the poise that I have now when I was a sophomore. Those experiences definitely helped me today."

Ficken gets credit for making all four kicks; as he should.

But maybe the wind was on his side.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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