Monday, November 15, 2010

Boom Goes the Dynamite

The dynamite went boom on a couple occasions this weekend. Like Andre Iguodala blowing up Brian Cardinal on Friday night.

Of course, the Sixers still lost to the Mavericks and then followed that up with another loss in Texas, dropping to the Spurs on Saturday.

Since I decided to stay in and watch nothing but basketball on Friday to save some pesos, I then turned my attention to the Thunder-Blazers game, and I'm glad I did. With Portland leading late, Durant went the hell off to lead Oklahoma City to the come-from-behind win.

Boom goes the dynamite indeed.

Boom went the dynamite in a couple of senses Saturday afternoon in Columbus as well. Boom, as in the Nittany Lions inexplicable dominating the first half on both sides of the ball and building a 14-3 halftime lead that should have been 17-3. It was stunning.

After Ohio State got a big play on a 49-yard completion from Terrelle Pryor to DeVier Posey to set up a field goal, Penn State took over thanks in large part to the spark plug former walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin and a motivated offensive line.

Under Joe Paterno, Penn State had never thrown a touchdown pass in the Horseshoe, never scored more than 13 points and has only won once. Yet in the span of 17 minutes, Matt McGloin had reversed two of those three trends and looked be on his way to bucking all of them. After a quick three-and-out on the first possession, McGloin engineered back-to-back touchdown drives of 75 and 82 yards, both of which were capped off by touchdown passes by the sophomore. The first was a just-in-the-nick-of-time release to Justin Brown, who embarrassed a linebacker on a wheel route.

Brown was featured well on the drive, catching three straight passes — an 11-yarder, 12-yarder and the touchdown — proving he has the playmaking ability to be a stud. He led all receivers with five catches for 64 yards. Of course, he saw the ball very little in the second half. Please, for the love of god just Free Justin Brown.

The second touchdown was to Derek Moye, who again had a great first half and like the rest of the team disappeared in the second half. McGloin was fired up and playing nearly flawless football, blowing up on the national scene. Penn State was being aggressive, converting on two fourth downs and stunningly had the lead.

Up 14-3 with less than two minutes left and facing a 4th and one at the Ohio State 20, Penn State had a chance to go up two touchdowns with a field goal. But sticking with the aggressiveness they showed the entire half, they elected to go for it. At the time, I didn't agree with it — kick it and go up 14 — but I have to applaud the coaches for trusting the guys and going for the jugular. Penn State was a huge underdog, playing in the Horseshoe, and if they convert there and get another touchdown to go up 21-3 before the half, it would have been huge. Sadly, they didn't pick it up, as Silas Redd was stuffed for no gain, and that proved to be a bad omen for the rest of the game.

Penn State played about as good as it possibly could in that first half. Sustaining it was going to be tough, and you knew Ohio State was going to come out of the gate roaring in the second half. When Penn State's opening drive stalled, that's exactly what happened. Ohio State marched 96 yards in 12 plays to make it 14-10. And it was all because of another Boom, this time Boom Herron.

On a crucial third and 6 at their own 8, Pryor hit Herron in the flat. Bani Gbadyu was in position to make the tackle and prevent the first down, but Herron made him look foolish, juked him and got the first. That's nothing new, Gbadyu failing to make a play. In fact, he really hasn't made a single play in four years. Then Herron went on to score the touchdown that made it a four-point game, and he did nothing but dominate from there. When it was all said and done, Herron finished with 190 yards rushing on 21 carries, gashing the Lions to help lead to 35 unanswered points from the Buckeyes.

But the game didn't completely turn on that 96-yard drive. No, it turned four plays later, when Matt McGloin made an absolutely horrific decision, trying to hit Michael Zordich out of the backfield but instead hitting Devon Torrence right in the hands for a pick-six, 17-14 Ohio State. The game was over right there, as McGloin completely blew up. After a brilliant first half for McGloin and his team, that play changed it all.

From there, McGloin looked every bit like the former walk-on he is, throwing another pick-six and completely failing to do anything in the second half. He made terrible decisions, terrible throws and got absolutely no help from his teammates or coaches. Ohio State played about as well as they could in the second half, just as Penn State had played its best in the first. The difference is Penn State's best this year was only good enough for a 14-3 lead, while Ohio State's best was able to win the second half 35-0.

Penn State had to play perfect to beat the Buckeyes. For 30 minutes, they did. Then boom went the dynamite, as McGloin blew up and Boom Herron led the charge for Ohio State to dominate and win going away.

Finally, boom went the Flyers with yet another victory, this time a 5-2 win over the Panthers that included two goals apiece by Mike Richards and Claude Giroux to help celebrate Jeff Carter and his 11-year contract extension with the Flyers.

While it was Carter making headlines before the game with his contract, it was a pair of other centers stealing the show. Giroux has been nothing short of amazing all year, and he continued that with a pair of goals Saturday night, one of which came on a breakaway.

The moment he blocked the shot, I said, "That's a goal," and never even questioned the statement. I honestly can't remember ever seeing Giroux miss on a breakaway, and he certainly didn't there. The guy is simply unreal.

And he wasn't alone. Because with Giroux enamoring the fan base and Carter inking his long deal, it was the captain who continued to lead the way.

Matt P. said it better than I ever could when it comes to Richards. The start of his tenure as captain may have been rocky, but I don't think there's any question now that he's the right man to wear the C. He's unselfish, willing to sacrifice his body and more than willing to share the spotlight with the Girouxs, Carter, Brieres and Bobrovskys on this team. A year ago, his leadership was in question all the way up until that exhilarating playoff run. Now, he's the unquestioned leader of a club that currently sits three points out of the top spot in the entire NHL.

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