Sloppy play equals another Big Ten loss

A missed extra point by kicker Jason Giannini in overtime was the difference-maker.

Mark Remme

Through three quarters of Saturday’s football game, it wasn’t pretty for Penn State or Minnesota.

There were botched snaps, missed field goal attempts, failed conversions on fourth and inches and a fumble on a punt return.

Neither team developed an offensive rhythm until late in the game. The Gophers struggled to compile 228 total yards in the first half.

Coach Glen Mason said Minnesota’s failure to execute helped Penn State on the scoreboard.

“We gave them their first touchdown on a muffed punt,” Mason said. “Then we gave them too much time at the end of the half and they capitalized.”

And in the end, it was the

Gophers’ ability to shoot

themselves in the foot at

crucial points in the game that led to a 28-27 loss to the Nittany Lions.

A missed extra point by sophomore kicker Jason Gianinni in overtime opened the door for Penn State to

tack on a point after a touchdown of its own and steal a hard-fought victory on the road.

“You expect to make those things – it’s major college football,” Mason said. “That’s why you kick it because it’s not automatic.”

The teams displayed inconsistency throughout the first three quarters, but in the fourth, the two defunct offenses became increasingly efficient.

Junior running back Amir Pinnix said it was constant swing in momentum.

“A roller coaster is a good way to explain it,” Pinnix said. “But we came out, played pretty hard, and we fought to the last second.”

Minnesota started the fourth quarter on its own 45 yard line facing a third and four.

The Gophers proceeded to march the remaining 55 yards into the endzone.

Pinnix capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown catch.

Penn State responded by putting together a 13-play,

82-yard scoring drive over

the span of 7:25. Junior

quarterback Anthony Morelli found junior fullback

Matt Hahn wide open in the end zone for a seven-yard score.

After both Minnesota and the Nittany Lions stalled on subsequent drives, the Gophers got the ball back with 2:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota faced a fourth and two on its own 22 yard

line when senior quarterback Bryan Cupito connected with senior wide receiver Logan Payne for a 42-yard completion.

“Logan Payne is playing as good as any other player in

this league right now,” Mason said.

Cupito then found senior tight end Matt Spaeth for

a 30-yard hookup that gave the Minnesota a first and goal

from the Penn State 1-yard line.

Pinnix scored on the next play, and the Gophers found themselves headed to overtime.

Cupito brought the Metrodome crowd to life late in the game.

On a third and nine from the 24 yard line in the first overtime, Cupito found freshman wide receiver Eric Decker in the end zone to put Minnesota ahead 27-21. He finished regulation with 347 yards passing in the game.

It was the end of a disciplined, error-free fourth-quarter performance on both

sides of the ball for the Gophers.

Gianinni’s missed extra point was exposed by a questionable pass interference call on senior cornerback Trumaine Banks on a fourth and nine pass from Morelli on the Nittany Lions’ overtime possession.

Penn State scored three plays later and its converted extra point sealed a

second consecutive win for the Nittany Lions over the Gophers.

Payne said the continuing pattern of losing close

games that Minnesota could have won is becoming frustrating.

“We’ve lost a couple games where we think we could’ve won them,” Payne said. “We just came up a little short. I’m getting sick of it.”