UNIVERSITY PARK — For weeks now, the Penn State offense has been searching for a complement to all-world receiver Allen Robinson.
The Nittany Lions needed another threat to siphon some of the stifling coverage teams had rolled Robinsons way.
Its only one game, but Brandon Felder may have established himself as that second option.
The senior from Fort Washington, Md., caught six passes for a team-high 97 yards and two touchdowns in Penn States 43-40 four-overtime win over Michigan.
With Allen being the excellent receiver that he is, the playmaker that he is, a lot of times hell get doubled or even triple-teamed a lot of times, safety Malcolm Willis said. Its up to the other receivers to make plays when they get the opportunities. Brandon, hes an excellent receiver. Hes also my roommate, so we talk about it all the time. Today was his chance. When the ball came to him he caught it.
Felder was on the receiving end of 12- and 24-yard touchdown passes from quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the first and second quarters, respectively, as Penn State built a 21-10 halftime lead.
As important as those grabs were, arguably none was bigger than the ball Felder caught as Penn State improbably drove for the game-tying score at the end of regulation.
On first-and-10 from the Nittany Lions 34-yard line, Penn State had barely more than 30 seconds to go 66 yards for a game-tying score. Hackenberg found Felder 29 yards downfield at the Michigan 37-yard line. That play set up Allen Robinsons acrobatic 36-yard catch from Hackenberg at the 1-yard line.
Felder was even more motivated than usual after having to sit out Penn States loss to Indiana the week before.
Thats very, very tough for a player to sit on the sideline and watch his team go out there when youre not able to help them. But you know, (I was) in and out of the training room with our training staff, strength staff, it got me back on the field today, Felder said.
Robinson was appreciative of Felders contributions.
I would say playing against a team like this, Michigan, we knew they were going to play their coverages and thats what they were going to stick to, he said.
They just stuck to their base coverages and Christian made some reads and Brandon was able to get open.
As if a first-ever loss to Indiana wasnt motivation enough, Penn State got some extra juice from a pair of former players.
Matt Millen, who broadcast the game for ESPN, and Michael Robinson both addressed the team. Robinson had a message that especially resonated.
Michael Robinson said one thing that I really liked. When you walk out on that field, press the kick-(butt) button, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones said. Thats what we did. We were out their playing our butts off, fighting and scratching and came out with the win.
Jones wasnt the only one who drew motivation from Robinsons message.
I loved that quote, push the kick-(butt) button, inside linebacker Glenn Carson said. That was awesome. We definitely played with that mentality.
Jones also revealed he had a message for his defensive mates, as well.
Weve come out the last couple games and we always come out flat and we dont pick it up until the second half. I was telling the guys, We need to come out with anger and frustration and just take it out on these guys, he said.
Thats what we did from the first play. We set the tone and we carried that momentum all the way into the fourth overtime.
Carson said that the Indiana loss provided another source of motivation.
After that loss, everyone seemed a lot more focused, a lot more determined to get this win. The way we played today really showed that, he said.
That was just an unbelievable feeling. We were really down on ourselves after that loss. We really needed this win to get us going through the season. Everyone just pulled through. Everyone was resilient throughout the game. I couldnt be more proud of everyone who played in this game.
Penn States 12th man
Coach Bill OBrien and many players have repeatedly contended that Penn States fans are the best in the Big Ten, maybe even the country.
On Saturday, the first sell-out crowd of the season made its presence felt. On multiple occasions, Michigans offense seemed flustered by the noise level the crowd produced. The players noticed, too.
Theyre the reason why we were able to get as far as we did. My body was achin going into the third one. Just hearing that crowd, knowing they had our backs, they believed in us as much as we do. Hearing that crowd out there was just great, Jones said.
Carson took the assessment of the crowd a step further.
We have the best fans in the world, I think. We just have great fans. The fans did an awesome job with the crowd noise, he said. I think it did play a factor in the game. Michigan struggled when the crowd got really loud. We were just feeding off that energy.