Penn State vs. Nebraska Review: The Touchdown that Wasn't

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You all saw it – dozens of times by now.

Penn State tight end Matt Lehman stretched the ball with two hands on it to the goal line trying to score the go-ahead touchdown. The ball got knocked loose. The officials ruled the ball came out before it crossed the goal line. Fumble. Touchback. Nebraska ball and Nebraska maintained the lead.

Only it wasn’t a fumble. It was a touchdown that wasn’t.

You’ve all read about it – and there will be plenty of opinions out there for you to sift through. So I tried really hard to come up with something other than 600 more venom spewing words on how a blown call – on the field and by replay – cost Penn State a win Saturday at Nebraska.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t. So here are the simple ABCs of the touchdown that wasn’t.

Angry – Penn State fans are angry and have every right to be. This was a bang-bang call on the field, but replay clearly showed this as a touchdown. The ABC announcing team of Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman both said it was a touchdown and even said they polled every person in the booth and they all said it was a touchdown.

Blown, butchered, bullcrap – Take your pick of Bs for this bang-bang play. But replay definitely indicated that the call was blown. It was a touchdown – plain and simple.

Conspiracy – We can go back a long way on this. The only stadium noise penalty I’ve ever seen called – anywhere - came at home against Michigan during Penn State’s first year in the conference, an Eddie George fumble that wasn’t called that helped cost a win against Ohio State, a bouncing ball scooped up by an Ohio State tight end and somehow ruled a catch, Tony Johnson in bounds but ruled out, one second left on the clock at Michigan Stadium, a defensive holding call on a punt this season and so on and so on. Just constant and continual ineptitude – or is more than that. Dave Jones is far more eloquent than I on this subject.

Defense – Where was it in the second half? Let’s face it. Nebraska pushed around the Penn State defense after halftime. The Huskers ran the ball right down the Nittany Lions throat. Penn State should’ve led 30-27 after Lehman’s touchdown but could it have held on to the lead? Like many others, I sure would’ve liked the opportunity to see.

Effort – Lehman’s effort to get into the end zone was admirable. He was trying to make a play, trying to score a touchdown. The fact that it was called incorrectly shouldn’t overshadow that.

[email protected]#*! – What you all yelled when the official told us the call on the field stands.

Gone – The opportunity to win the Leaders Division, no matter how slight, is now gone. No, there was no shot at the B1G title game but, hey, a division crown was something to still play for.

Hard to take – For a team, a fan base and a school that has taken it on the chin for the last year, it’s hard to take when you think you’re getting hosed on the field. Judging from what I saw on Twitter, the fans are definitely taking it the hardest.

Inept, Indisputable, Inexcusable – There is no other way to describe the replay officials but completely inept. They had the ability to freeze the tape frame by frame. We’ve all seen the shot of Lehman’s hands in full control of the ball over the goal line. That is indisputable evidence. It’s inexcusable that it wasn’t called correctly.

Judgment – Hard to blame the officials on the field on such a close call, but there’s no excuse for the poor judgment used by the replay officials.

Kicking game – Lost in the blown call was that the kicking game was strong on a day when the wind was howling. Sam Ficken made all three of his field goals and Alex Butterworth had some good punting results.

Lousy call, lousy loss – The Virginia loss may have been a heartbreaker but this was worse because of the feeling that it was taken away by this lousy call.

Matt McGloin – “We’re not going to get a call here. We’re not going to get that call ever, against any team. It doesn’t matter who the referees are, we’ll never get that call.”

Nebraska – Nebraska has been in this conference for all of two years. It got a gift call last week at Michigan State to eke out a win and another one Saturday. Penn State has been in the league for 20 years and is still looking for just one of those. How does that happen?

O’Brien – “Losing is a terrible feeling, miserable. It’s like a part of you dies, to be honest with you.”


Quarterback – So maybe he didn’t say the right thing after the game, but he said what just about every one of you was thinking. He’s emotional and that’s okay. He’s a huge reason why this team has exceeded all expectations this year.

Resilient – There has never been a team more resilient. It has displayed that all year. Down 27-23 with all the momentum on Nebraska’s side, these players showed it yesterday. They drove for the go-ahead touchdown under hostile conditions. It’s just too bad that it was taken away.

Second halves – They’ve been a problem. For all the success Penn State has had in the first half, the second halves have killed the Lions in all their losses. If they don’t let Nebraska run all over them in the third quarter, that blown call might not have made a difference.

Turnovers – Even without counting the one that shouldn’t have been, two others were huge. The fumble surely cost Penn State points and the interception handed Nebraska points.

Urschel, John – Leave it to the 4.0 GPA math major to have a rational reaction when fans everywhere didn’t. “I can only speak for myself,” Urschel said. “My opinion is, whatever they call is what we have. And we just have to move forward with it.” I only wish I could be so logical. Good for him.

Victory – It should’ve or at the very least could’ve been one.

Wind – That game-winning drive came against a fierce 35 mph wind. In fact, if it wasn’t for the wind, the long pass to Allen Robinson probably would’ve been a touchdown. The wind held it up a bit to cause an underthrow.

Xtacy to agony – Okay, it’s a stretch but what else do you put for X? Watching the play, tell me you didn’t go from ecstacy (on the catch and run) to agony (when the ball was knocked loose) to ecstacy (when we saw the replay) to agony again (when call was upheld). Ugh.

You’ve got to be kidding me!

Zach Zwinak – Fumble aside, it was another great day ZZ. He had 141 yards rushing and if Lehman doesn’t stretch the ball out and goes down at the one, I’d like the chance of Zwinak plowing his way into the end zone on third or fourth down.

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