Penn State posted solid performances on both offense and defense Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium en route to a 34-6 victory against Eastern Michigan, but some key injuries have put a damper on the celebration for the Nittany Lions.
Coach Joe Paterno said after the game he expects linebacker Michael Mauti to miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Mauti will have an MRI soon to confirm the injury, but it doesn't look good for him.
D'Anton Lynn was carted off the field in the third quarter after colliding with two teammates and an Eastern Michigan receiver on an Eagles' pass route. After the hit, Lynn went down an laid motionless on the field until trainers arrived to tend to him.
The staff brought a cart out and Lynn was taken off the field on a board as a precautionary measure. Paterno said after the game Lynn has feeling in his extremities, however, so at this point, it looks like the injury isn't too serious. There is no timeline for the cornerback's return, though.
Nathan Stupar stepped into the fray for Penn State at linebacker after Mauti's injury and posted some big numbers. He led the Lions in tackles with seven, including three for a loss and dropped Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett for a sack in the first half.
Despite seizing the opportunity, however, Stupar was somber after the game in talking about his fallen teammate.
"I'm really disappointed and sad that he got hurt," Stupar said. "My prayer are out to him, and I hope he gets better quick."
Even without two of their defensive stars in Mauti and Lynn, the Lions were able to hold together a pretty solid defensive performance. Eastern Michigan gained only 270 total yards and just 68 on the ground. Penn State also forced some turnovers, getting an interception from Nick Sukay and a couple of fumble recoveries.
Things will only get harder for the Lions this coming week, however, as they open Big Ten play against Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday. Last season, the Hoosiers managed to move the ball in their 41-24 loss against the Lions at FedEx field in Landover, Md., racking up 332 total yards.
Stupar is hopeful he and his teammates can use the injuries to Lynn and Mauti as inspiration moving forward, though.
"Football is an emotional game," Stupar said. "You've just got to take that emotion and just use it. There's gonna be injuries and stuff in football...and that's football. You've just got to keep on going."