Penn State Football

Penn State football: Zettel shines before friends, family

Penn State’s Anthony Zettel hauls in an interception against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Zettel managed to get 53 game tickets for family and friends.
Penn State’s Anthony Zettel hauls in an interception against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Zettel managed to get 53 game tickets for family and friends. CDT photo

Anthony Zettel isn't sure what his vertical leap is.

He wasn’t in much of a mood to discuss it despite his leaping interception of Devin Gardner set up Penn State’s only touchdown in an 18-13 loss to Michigan on Saturday night. It was the second interception of Gardner by Zettel in his career, this one coming at Michigan Stadium just about two and a half hours south of where Zettel grew up in West Branch.

“I didn’t get that high up,” Zettel said.

But plenty of his friends and family showed up to watch Penn State’s tenacious defensive tackle do his thing. He finished with two tackles, the interception and deflected another pass.

Zettel said he wrangled 53 tickets while a handful of other friends and family members bought their own. He said “about 80” friends and family were among the 113,085 fans in attendance in the first Big Ten night game at The Big House.

Fellow Michigan native C.J. Olaniyan has been playing next to Zettel for most of two seasons now. He also had more than a handful of friends and family in the stands.

“It’s always tough when you lose, especially when you play a great game (like our defense) did,” Olaniyan said. “We just know, as far as a whole team, we need to get better and improve and learn from the mistakes we made today.”

Lewis has playing time cut

Geno Lewis was nowhere to be seen during the Nittany Lions’ first drive. One of Penn State’s more dependable offensive weapons, his appearances afterward were few and far between.

Lewis finished with just three catches for 17 yards and was targeted just four times.

Afterward, Penn State coach James Franklin attributed Lewis’s mysterious lack of presence to multiple aspects. Per his policy, Franklin refused to say Lewis was suffering from any injury. When Lewis did get in the game, he was without any bandages or braces.

“Just the way the whole week worked out with practice and some other things based on film and things we’ve been evaluating all year long,” Franklin said. “There’s a lot of factors that went into it, not one specific reason.”

True freshmen receivers Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin both saw heavy rotation with the offense. Godwin was targeted on two deep throws but did not catch a pass. Blacknall finished with one catch for 17 yards. True freshman tight end Mike Gesicki also played more in Lewis’s absence. Gesicki caught two passes for 10 yards.

Banged up Blue

Michigan lost leading rusher Derrick Green a week ago and the injuries kept piling up for the Wolverines.

Starting wideout Jehu Chesson and corner Jabril Peppers were not suited up and tight end Khalid Hill was also out with an injury for Michigan. Meanwhile, the Wolverines had to turn to third-string quarterback Russell Bellomy after starter Devin Gardner was injured in the third quarter. Devin Funchess was also hurt but both were able to return to the game.

Talented return man Dennis Norfleet also missed a few snaps after he was shaken up on an offensive play in the first half.

Penn State was without special teams contributor Cole Chiappialle who stayed home with an unspecified injury.

Halftime blackout

Michigan officials turned the lights out at halftime for its band’s performance. Instruments were fitted with blue lights while fans took part with glowing devices.