Stephon Morris said Saturday’s contest against Nebraska was a game that players live for.
In front of a packed house at Memorial Stadium, Penn State and Nebraska had a battle that came down to an action-packed fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions coughed up a two-touchdown lead they had at halftime, and fell short, 32-23, to the No. 16 Cornhuskers.
And in Penn State’s last away game of the season, Morris — a senior cornerback — said the defeat stung.
“This hurt at lot,” Morris said. “As far as the seniors, it’s our last away game, the last time wearing all white. We had it, but we didn’t come away with it once again. …Although we can’t compete in a Big Ten Championship or go further in a bowl game, this is a game that we wanted, we had to have, but we just fell short.”
It was Penn State’s fourth loss of the season, and the third time the team has blown a halftime lead.
But now the Lions have to move on from the tough loss. Though seniors won’t be able to play another contest in their all-white uniforms, they still have two opportunities left in Penn State’s blue tops as the team hosts Indiana and Wisconsin in the final two weeks of the regular season.
“We’ve been fighting for this year now. I got two games left,” Morris said. “I know the team will come out for the Indiana game with everything they got. Who knows my future, whether I’m going to keep playing on or not at the next level. But I’m going to give it my all these last two games.”
The first of the final two games at Beaver Stadium in the 2012 season comes against Indiana this Saturday. As of last week, the four-win Hoosiers were actually still alive for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, but those aspirations went away after they suffered a 62-14 beat down at the hands of Wisconsin.
Indiana has lost six of its last eight games and is last in the conference in scoring defense (32.2 points per game). Penn State will try to take advantage of that in an effort to avoid losing back-to-back contests for the second time this season.
“Losing is a terrible feeling,” coach Bill O’Brien said after the loss to the Cornhuskers. “It’s miserable, it’s absolutely miserable. It’s like a part of you dies, to be honest with you.”
The Lions loss on Saturday may have been their most miserable of the 2012 campaign, as the 14-point lead was the largest Penn State has given up this season.
Nebraska outscored Penn State by 23 points in the final 30 minutes. A heavily-discussed fumble call on tight end Matt Lehman limited the Lions, but the three points the team scored in the second half were the fewest it had since it was shutout in its season-opening loss to Ohio.
“Losing a game stinks if you’re in eighth grade or in high school or in college,” senior center Matt Stankiewitch said. “…What we have to look through is what can we do to get better? What can we do to not be in those situations? And what can we do to put more points on the board? So we don’t have to be biting our nails.”