Blue-White Game Recap

Story posted April 13, 2014 in CommRadio by Phil Constantino

James Franklin had never been to a game at Beaver Stadium.

On Saturday, his first experience was like none other, standing on the field 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage as the offense worked, while 72,000 eyes in attendance were on him.

In his first coaching appearance in front of the Nittany Lion faithful, Franklin’s team held spring practice No. 15 in the form of the annual Blue-White Game, as the Blue team dominated the White team 37-0 on a picture perfect 70-degree day in Happy Valley.

“Running into that stadium was an unbelievably emotional experience for me and I couldn’t be more excited,” Franklin said.

The Blue team opened the scoring with 9:26 left in the first as Sam Ficken, who finished one-for-one on field goal tries and four of five on extra point attempts, while handling the kicking duties for both teams, knocked through a 26-yard field goal to make it 3-0.

With three minutes to play in the second, the Blue squad, comprised of Penn State’s starters and second teamers, including notable names such as Christian Hackenberg, Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak; broke it open. However, it was a virtual unknown that did the damage.

Running back Cole Chiappialle, rushed for a game-high 63 yards on nine carries while scoring two touchdowns, one from nine yards out, the other an electrifying 23 yard run down the sideline, to make it 17-0 at the half.

“Cole’s been doing that all spring,” said running backs coach and special teams coordinator Charles Huff. “From the day we got here, in the winter conditioning, Cole has been doing a heck of a job for us. And the thing about Cole is he does the little things right. The game of football rewards people that do the little things right. He’s not the fastest, he’s not the biggest, he’s not the strongest, but he does the little things right and when you can do that you create opportunities for yourself.”

“So today I was excited for him, I was definitely proud of him, but I kind of expected that from him.”

To open the second half the Blue team picked up right where it left off this time on the defensive side of the ball. With 8:28 to play in the third Matthew Baney returned an interception, one of four turnovers forced by the blue team (three interceptions), for a touchdown to make it 23-0.

The highlight reel play of the game came moments later, as Geno Lewis, a former high school quarterback, took a toss off of a reverse and connected with a wide-open Matt Zanellato for 56-yard touchdown.

“When I was coming off the edge there was two guys and I had to avoid one and I looked and I seen him so I just heaved it up,” Lewis said.

With 25 seconds remaining Akeel Lynch rushed in from three yards out to cap the scoring. Ficken hit the extra point as time ran out to seal the 37-0 outcome.

“We got a lot of work done this spring. I think everybody can tell we still got a long ways to go, but our focus is on every single day getting better, from now until our first came against Central Florida. And if we do that… than we’ll be in great shape by the time the season gets going.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be here, couldn't be more proud to be the head football coach at Penn State.”

Phil Constantino is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

Photo Courtesy: Keith Srakocic, Associated Press