The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 7, 2013

Penn State football notebook: Selinsgrove's Keiser sidelined by injury


Daily Item

---- — By William Bowman

The Daily Item

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Penn State junior safety Ryan Keiser, a Selinsgrove alum, missed most of Saturday's home opener against Eastern Michigan after getting injured on a kickoff early in the second quarter.

Keiser, an all-state receiver/safety on Selinsgrove's 2009 PIAA champion, is listed as a co-starter with Malcolm Willis at one of the safety spots and saw action on consecutive series after Willis played the first two series.

While covering a kickoff following Penn State's first touchdown, Keiser was hit hard on a block. He got to his feet, wobbled for a second before falling back down. He quickly got up and waved for Willis to come in as he went to the sideline.

Doctors checked out Keiser on the bench for several moments, and he later walked off the field. Coach Bill O'Brien had no update on Keiser's status in his post-game press conference.

Keiser finished with two tackles, including an open-field stop on a punt return that could have broken for big yards.

SIGNAGE: One of the more popular attractions at each home game in Beaver Stadium are the signs the PSU student sections create, highlighted by the long-standing "Linebacker U" sign.

For the first time ever, Keiser had one of his own, located just to the right of the tunnel the team uses to enter and exit the field. The sign, with blue paint on a white bed sheet, read "Keiser is on a Roll, #23."

RECORD HOLDER: The second week of the 2012 season, Penn State placekicker Sam Ficken became a household name when he went 1-for-5 on field goal attempts in a one-point loss at Virginia.

On Saturday, in the second game of the 2013 season, Ficken made his 14th consecutive kick, dating back to last season.

The junior from Valparaiso, Ind., was the subject of talk for most of the 2012 season. At one point, O'Brien held open tryouts, as he does several times a year, for a placekicker and Ficken won the job every week in practice the coach said.

After going 3-for-3 in last week's win over Syracuse, Ficken drilled a 39-yarder late in the first half to break the tie he held with Craig Fayak (1990-93).

RETIREMENT: Penn State announced it honored a player with a retired jersey number for the first time in program history.

The university announced at halftime it had retired John Cappelletti's No. 22 as part of the celebration honoring the 40th anniversary of the unbeaten 1973 team. Cappelletti is Penn State's only Heisman Trophy winner. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

Freshman running back Akeel Lynch, who had his first career carry on Saturday, will wear the number for the remainder of his career before No. 22 is officially retired.

BUT FIRST: Lynch, who redshirted last year, did not carry the ball in last week's opener but saw first significant action Saturday and made the most of it, running for 108 yards on 13 carries. He also scored Penn State's final touchdown.

He and teammate Bill Belton both surpassed the 100-yard mark in the win. Belton, the starting tailback in last year's opener before an injury, ran for a career-high 108 yards on just nine carries. Belton scored twice, including a career-long 51-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

OFF AND RUNNING: Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg made his first career start at home and after some early jitters, he delivered. The son of former Susquehanna University quarterback Erick Hackenberg, Christian went 23-of-33 for a PSU freshman record 311 yards and a TD after starting 1-of-5. He also had a fumble, which was picked up and returned for Eastern Michigan's only score, and was intercepted in the red zone.

"It was his first game in Beaver Stadium," said O'Brien. "You can take 5,000 recruiting trips here, but it's not like playing in a game. He was a little amped up."

In his first two games, Hackenberg is 45-of-64 (70 percent) for 589 yards and three scores. By comparison Matt McGloin, who broke nearly every Penn State single-season passing mark last year, was 46-of-83 (55 percent) for 456 yards and four TDs after two games.

NFL READY: During one of the early timeouts, the public address announcer at Beaver Stadium announced the members of the 2012 Nittany Lions who made NFL rosters as rookies.

Four players from O'Brien's first team made a professional roster this year. Linebackers Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges will be teammates again with the Vikings, while defensive tackle Jordan Hill made the Seahawks' final roster cuts. Hill is the cousin of Bucknell point guard Ryan Hill and both graduated from Steelton-Highspire.

The loudest applause was held until the final player was announced: McGloin. The former walk-on out of West Scranton became the third-string QB for the Raiders, even though he was an undrafted free agent. McGloin made the roster ahead of former Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson, who was a fourth-round draft pick.