We’re counting down the days until kickoff. So, every day, we’ll try to make that time tick by just a little faster by also counting down the top 30 moments of James Franklin’s tenure so far. Up next — with six days left — is the No. 6 moment since Franklin took the head-coaching job.
No. 6 moment: Pinstripe Bowl win in 2014
Penn State wasn’t supposed to see the postseason until 2016 — but here the Nittany Lions were, playing in a bowl game two years earlier than expected.
When the postseason ban levied by the NCAA was lifted on Sept. 8, 2014, Beaver Canyon rejoiced. When the Nittany Lions defeated Temple on Nov. 15, 2014, Beaver Stadium was overjoyed as Penn State became bowl-eligible.
The Nittany Lions finished the 2014 regular season at 6-6 and faced Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl with a chance at a winning season. A losing season wouldn’t have been an ideal way to cap James Franklin’s first year at the helm.
Thankfully for the coach, Sam Ficken and the Nittany Lions had him covered.
Penn State beat the Eagles 31-30 in overtime at Yankee Stadium, as a game-tying field goal and walk-off extra point by Ficken sent the Nittany Lions wheeling in celebration.
Christian Hackenberg led the way offensively, completing 34 of 50 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
The quarterback’s first TD toss opened the scoring. A 72-yard hookup to then-freshman Chris Godwin, who broke out with seven catches for 140 yards, gave the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead.
However, three unanswered touchdowns by Boston College had the Eagles up 21-7 as the third quarter waned.
As the third period expired, his red zone pass in Geno Lewis’ direction was tipped into the wideout’s hands to cut Boston College’s lead to 21-14. Two possessions later, Hackenberg found DaeSean Hamilton for a game-tying 16-yard score.
Boston College connected on a late fourth-quarter field goal, but Ficken nailed one as the clock expired, sending the Pinstripe Bowl into overtime.
The Eagles struck first with a touchdown, but Mike Knoll’s extra point attempt was missed.
The door was open for Penn State. Hackenberg connected with tight end Kyle Carter, and Ficken drilled his PAT, winning the game.
In an abnormal football atmosphere at Yankee Stadium, Penn State fans made it feel like Beaver Stadium.
It was a raucous scene — one that Franklin, Ficken, Hackenberg and the Nittany Lion faithful will never forget.