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Rutgers Football Team Defeated by Penn State in First Big 10 Game

Penn State Beats Rutgers 13-10 After Trailing For Most of the Game in Front of a Record-Setting Crowd
Gary Nova
Quarterback Gary Nova returns to the locker room after a disappointing performance in Saturday's high-profile game. Charlie Kratovil

PISCATAWAY, NJ—In a historic football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Penn State Nittany Lions, Penn State beat Rutgers 13-10 in front of a capacity crowd. 

With 53,774 in attendance, the crowd was the largest in the history of the Rutgers football program, and the game was the first conference game since the school officially joined the Big Ten Athletic Conference.

The game also pitted two undefeated teams against one another and had been sold out for weeks, leading many students to scalp their tickets via Facebook.  Tickets were selling for between $131 and $349 on the StubHub.com website on gameday.

Rutgers, particularly its defensive squad, performed well throughout most of the game.  By halftime, Rutgers was leading the Nittany Lions 10-0.

However, in typical Rutgers fashion, the Knights allowed the opposing team to catch up during the second half.  The defensive shutout ended with a Penn State field goal just two minutes after the teams returned from halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, Penn State had garnered six points after twice being held to field goals by the Knight's impressive defense.  But the Knights offense sputterred, coverting just one first down in the third quarter.

As time ticked away and the suspense built in the stadium, Penn State's quarterback Christian Hackenburg completed a critical 53-yard pass to Geno Lewis who evaded the weary Rutgers defense to put his team in scoring position.

And with just over a minute to go before the end of the game, Penn State's Bill Belton ran in for the touchdown to take the lead 13-10.  Rutgers was left with 1:13 to work with, but with the game on the line, the Knights could not pull out the win.

In the end, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova completed 15 of his 30 passes, but five of those passes were intercepted by Penn State, including one that secured the victory for Penn State in the final minute.

A bright spot for the Knights was once again their special teams squad, as Kemoko Turay blocked a Penn State field goal and Leonte Carroo blocked a punt.

Though a sizable portion of the stadium was rooting for the Nittany Lions, Rutgers fans still dominated the stadium.  Though both schools have a lot in common, serving as the major public universities in neighboring states, they have not faced off on the football field since 1995.

While Rutgers was celebrating their upgrade to the Big 10 conference, Penn State's football team also received news that was cause for celebration, as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced last Monday that they are now eligible to play in the postseason.

Since 2012, the school's football team was deemed ineligible for postseason play in response to a scandal involving an assistant coach who was convicted of molesting numerous children on school property.  In addition, the school was fined $60 million, and numerous other penalties were implemented including the limiting of the amount of football scholarships.

Some Rutgers fans focused on that scandal wearing clothing or displaying signs that made light of the child abuse, prompting Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann to issue an apology to Penn State's fans on Monday.

"We would like to apologize for the regrettable actions of a handful of Rutgers fans on Saturday that do not convey the message of good, competitive spirit that we look forward to having with our new Big Ten rival Penn State University."

This Saturday, the Scarlet Knights football team will travel to face the Naval Academy's Midshipmen at 3:30 pm.