Tony keeps Penn State in the Hunt in the Big Ten

Apprehensions that Penn State would succumb to a brittle vulnerability Saturday against Purdue proved unfounded.A college football program that had displayed a passion for indirection in recent years has come together in a serene place.The Nittany Lions, whose abrupt reversal of fortune this season has primarily resided in the hands of their splashy freshmen receivers, resorted to their ground game in the second half to rebuff any thoughts of upset lurking in the minds and hearts of the Boilermakers.A signature sign heralding a resourceful and successful team is the capacity to fill the void with alternative scenarios.Which is exactly what Penn State did Saturday as it hones in on his first Big Ten title since 1994.When the dust of the Homecoming conflict had cleared Saturday at Beaver Stadium, Penn State had rushed for a whopping 303 yards in a 33-15 win. And Tony Hunt had garnered – a throwback verb employed by ink-stained sports scribes of yesteryear – 129 of them.Hunt was especially effective in the fourth period as he punished Purdue defenders and foiled any comeback considerations the Boilermakers may have harbored.Indeed, Hunt ran with a pleasurable pride in the fourth quarter, rushing for 52 yards against a Purdue defense that hadn’t exhibited a fragility against the run until Saturday. The Boilermakers had surrendered just 122 rushing yards a game coming into Saturday. But thanks to Hunt’s pinball cunning and the marvelous athleticism of quarterback Michael Robinson, who bolted for 96 yards on the turf, Penn State rushed by Purdue.Throw in Kevin Kelly’s four field goals, Rodney Kinlaw’s spectacular kickoff return to set the stage for a touchdown, and a stout defense that held Purdue to a season-low 277 yards, and you had the recipe for victory in what could have been a trap game for Penn State.The Lions amassed 516 yards of offense, and more than doubled the first downs accrued by the Boilermakers, 29-14. Undoubtedly, the media’s eye will be focusing ever more intently on Penn State as it continues its inspiring climb back to the pantheon of college football’s esteemed elite.And with all the TV trucks and vans jockeying for curb space in Happy Valley, hopefully a phalanx of microphones make their way to the lips of Tony Hunt.After all, it’s nice to give some props to the bread-and-butter guy, the dude who delivers more than a commensurate dividend on the ground.Indeed, while the perimeter guys garner an unduly share of the glory and the acclaim, we cannot forget the contributions of those who toil in the infantry. The ground game is where guys put up their dukes and conduct their conversations in mumbles.Nobody stood taller for Penn State Saturday than Tony Hunt, who morphed Purdue into a piñata at crunch time.