In the end, the team's biggest Achilles Heel became the one thing to undo them on the biggest stage.
With the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in overtime, Tyler Murphy connected with David Dudeck for a 21-yard catch and run. Dudeck, he of the career taking him from running back to safety to wide receiver, eluded Penn State defenders and hit pay dirt. With a defensive stand looming, the Eagles led, 30-24. The fans at Yankee Stadium draped in maroon and gold exuded confidence and elation.
And then it happened.
Mike Knoll shanked the extra point attempt, opening the door for Penn State to score and kick their way to a 31-30 victory. That's exactly what they did, with Christian Hackenberg hitting Jesse James for 17 yards on a 3rd and 15 conversion before hitting Kyle Carter for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Sam Ficken added the easy extra point, and Penn State defeated Boston College at Yankee Stadium.
Both teams finished the season with 7-6 overall records. It was Penn State's first bowl victory since winning the Capital One Bowl in 2009, but with the vacation of wins due to the Sandusky sex abuse scandal, it becomes their first "official" win since the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Boston College remains in search of their first bowl victory since 2007.
The teams provided a lackluster first half devoid of scoring except for the end of the first quarter. That's when Hackenberg lit up the BC defense, hitting Chris Godwin in stride past Manny Asprilla for a 72-yard strike to put Penn State up 7-0.
The Eagles responded immediately on the next drive, using two key blocks to open up a hole big enough for freshman Jon Hilliman to take off through, running 49 yards to tie the game at 7-7 before the second period started.
In the second half, with the score still 7-7, BC started to take over the game flow. They scored 14 unanswered points thanks to their grad student, fifth-year quarterback Tyler Murphy. On the first drive, Murphy amassed 43 of the Eagles' 60 yards, capping off the drive with a 19-yard pass to Shakim Phillips for a 14-7 lead. He made it 21-7 himself one drive later when he outran the vaunted Penn State defense for a 40-yard touchdown run after Bobby Wolford sprung him with a beautiful block.
With 2:12 left in the third, though, the Eagles eased up off the gas pedal. Hackenberg connected with Geno Lewis for 32 yards, tacking on an additional 15 due to a facemask penalty. That set up Penn State with a first down at the BC 15 yard line, and they easily converted three plays later for a seven yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-14 at the end of the third.
The Eagles held on for about half of the fourth, but Penn State tied the game with a quick strike drive and connection between Hackenberg and DaeSean Hamilton. BC responded with a touchdown of their own, taking a 24-21 lead on the next drive when Knoll kicked a 20-yard field goal.
Taking possession with 2:10 left in the game, the Nittany Lions drove the length of the field to set up Sam Ficken for a long but makeable 44-yard field goal. He kicked it true, tying the game at 24-24 to set up overtime.
Tyler Murphy capped his collegiate career with 105 yards on 11 carries and the one touchdown, the 12th of his only Boston College season (tying Matt Ryan for most career touchdown runs at The Heights). Jon Hilliman finished a brilliant freshman campaign with a season-best 148 yards on 25 carries against one of the nation's stoutest rushing defenses. Shakim Phillips had three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, accounting for nearly half of Murphy's 97 passing yards.
Hackenberg, meanwhile, lit up the skies over New York by going 34/50 for 371 yards and four touchdowns with no picks. Chris Godwin, Geno Lewis, and DaeSean Hamilton all finished with seven catches apiece for 140, 82, and 51 yards, respectively. All had touchdown catches.
Akeel Lynch carried 17 times for 75 yards.
The game was played before a Pinstripe Bowl record 49,012 fans.