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Boilers' slide continues in 34-9 loss to PSU

Purdue’s football season isn’t over, but the hope a “successful” one is in serious jeopardy.

The Boilers 34-9 loss to Penn State is their fifth in a row, all against Big Ten opponents, and ensures the team will not finish 2012 with better record than last year no matter what happens the rest of the way.

“Obviously we are disappointed in where we are at. We haven’t (come) through in the clutch games, in the big games, and that’s why we are at where we are at,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope.

Even with a change at quarterback, the script for Purdue against the Nittany Lions was similar to its games against Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Minnesota. 

For the fourth week in a row, the Boilers scored on their opening drive.  Sam McCartney connected on a 21-yard field goal off the post on the team’s first possession.  But, after that, the offense failed to manufacture much else, while the Nittany Lions found their rhythm, racking off 34-consecutive points before the Boilers added a garbage-time touchdown on the final play of the game.

Purdue (3-6, 0-5) gave up 44-straight a week ago to the Gophers and 38-in a row to the Badgers.

“We know we have a lot of talent,” said wide receiver Antavian Edison, “and for us not to be able to move the ball down the field, even to get so much as a field goal, is very discouraging.”

Despite running 13 more offensive plays, Purdue was outgained 506-to-375 and also failed to come away with any points on three of possessions that started close to midfield.

“The fact that we weren’t able to manufacture points off of good field position is exactly why the ball game got to where it was at and that’s why it ended like it did, because we didn’t cash in on the opportunities we had early in the ball game,” said Hope. 

Penn State kicker and Valparaiso, IN native Sam Ficken tied the game at 3-3 on a 27-yard field goal with 6:03 left in the first quarter.  On its next drive, Penn State went 48-yards in two plays capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Michael Zordich.  The score was set up by a 42-yard pass from Matt McGloin to Brandon Moseby-Felder (6 rec, 129 yds, TD).

Ficken added another field goal in the second quarter to push the Nittany Lions’ lead to 13-3 and Zordich (11 carries, 35 yds, 2TD) found the end zone for the second time on a five yard run with just over a minute before halftime.

“There’s a lot of big plays we left out there, from started to the backups, as far as people getting beat in coverage or taking the fakes,” said Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short.  “We felt like we’ve could have done a lot better.”

Penn State used its aerial attack to strike after the break.

The Nittany Lions scored on a 12-yard toss from McGloin to tight end Jesse James on its first possession of the third quarter and on the ensuing drive, McGloin hit Brandon Moseby-Felder on a 41 yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 34-3.

McGloin finished the games 22-36 for 321 yards and the two touchdowns.  Running back Zach Zwinak added 134 yards on 21 carries for the Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-1).

Purdue’s three quarterback system of Marve, TerBush, and Rob Henry combined to go 33-62 for 288-yards and one touchdown.  Marve, who took the majority of snaps, was under pressure all day and got little help from his receivers who stalled drives with a number of dropped passes.

“I really have to look at the film.  I don’t know how much of it was me or the protection.  I took some shots today.  I don’t know if that was on me or someone else,” said Marve. “I don’t how many drops there were or bad ball placements. I don’t know.  It sucks to lose.  It sucks to have this feeling.”

Purdue has now played three conference home games. The Boilers have been outscored 116-39 in those contests.

Danny Hope said before the season that this was the best team he has had in his four years as head coach in West Lafayette.  It also is one of the most experienced in the conference.

He set high goals including going to a better bowl than the Little Caesar’s Bowl Purdue went to last year in Detroit and representing the Leaders division in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. 

The Boiler can no longer accomplish the latter of the two and even getting to a bowl is now in doubt. But, Hope is not writing off taking positives from the season.

“Based on what we have in place right now, in front of us, if we win the next three ball games and go into postseason play, I think that would be a good sign for our football team and our football program,” he said.  “We can still win and end the season with some momentum.”

Purdue needs to win its remaining three games to qualify for the postseason and while the final contests are against some of the conference’s weakest teams - Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana - the Boilermakers still face an uphill climb, and how steep that climb is may have been no more apparent than Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve been doing everything we can do, it’s just not clicking on game day,” said cornerback Ricardo Allen.  “You have to believe in yourself.  It’s the willpower.  At the end of the day you have to believe in yourself and I believe we can win these.”