Another match. Another Penn State win.
However, this Nittany Lion victory wasn’t like all the others.
No. 1 Penn State won seven of 10 bouts with only two coming with bonus points as it topped No. 7 Nebraska 24-10 on Friday inside Rec Hall.
“We want to sneak one or two of those, obviously,” Nittany Lion coach Cael Sanderson said. “That’s a pretty good team (Nebraska). I think our guys did what they had to do. I think they wrestled pretty well. I don’t think we were at our best but we probably shouldn’t be at our best tonight.”
Penn State had plenty of close wins none closer than Matt McCutcheon’s 8-7 win at 184 pounds over No. 5 T.J. Dudley.
The sophomore used a takedown with 28 seconds left in the match to tie it up at 6-6. McCutcheon cut Dudley loose and looked to get the one-point victory with one more takedown.
McCutcheon got the needed takedown with 0.4 seconds left in the match and sent the sold-out crowd of 6,537 into a frenzy.
“I wasn’t sure how much time I had left on the clock,” McCutcheon said. “I knew I had to finish quick. I don’t think I wrestled my best but it’s exciting to get a win in Rec Hall with our fans.”
Twice in the match, McCutcheon had shot attempts that he got locked in on Dudley’s leg. Dudley scrambled well and turned it into his own takedowns.
“I knew I had to finish the right way,” McCutcheon said. “I let my head slip out a few times. I let him scoot the corner too many times. It’s something I’m going to have to work on later on.”
A couple of those closer wins included Nico Megaludis squeaking out an 8-5 win in the match opener at 125, Jordan Conaway earning a 5-3 win at 131, and Morgan McIntosh needing a second tie-breaker for his 2-1 win at 197 pounds.
“We had some big wins in those tight matches,” Sanderson said. “Our guys finished the matches strong, which is good. We want some close matches but those bonus points are what we are looking for.”
Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf answered the call for the Nittany Lions.
Retherford, who was the Ridge Reilly Award winner, squared off with No. 5 Jake Sueflohn in the highlight match of the dual. Retherford dominated the match using two takedowns in the first and third periods en route to a 12-3 major decision.
“I thought Zain wrestled really well,” Sanderson said. “Sueflohn is a tough kid, one of the better kids in the country … ranked, been around, tricky, good on bottom, good on top. Zain did a nice job.”
Nolf was exciting like usual. Instead of scoring seven or eight takedowns, he used four takedowns and two 4-point near falls in a 19-3 technical fall. His win pushed Penn State’s lead to 15-6.
Bo Nickal came a point shy of earning bonus points for the Nittany Lions in his 10-3 decision at 174 pounds.
Nebraska got on the board at 141 when Anthony Abidin beat Kade Moss, who was filling in for Jimmy Gulibon, 4-1. The win brought the Cornhuskers within three points but that was the closest the rest of the night.
Nebraska earned victories at 165 pounds and heavyweight, too. Austin Wilson needed a riding point to edge Geno Morelli, 3-2.
The match finished with the Cornhuskers’ Collin Jensen earning a 9-1 major decision over Wes Phipps, who was wrestling in his first match in over a year and a half. It sounds like some help could be on the way.
“We have (Anthony) Cassar and (Nick) Nevills,” Sanderson said, “one of those guys will most likely be in our lineup by the Big Tens. They are getting close. We really appreciate the efforts with the guys that we have in there but they are close.”
Penn State gets no rest now. It will head to Illinois to face Northwestern on Sunday.
“We’re on the road again,” Sanderson said. “This is a fun time of the year.”