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Penn State kicker Sam Ficken makes amends

NEW YORK - The script for Sam Ficken's career at Penn State could easily be the stuff of a compelling movie.

NEW YORK - The script for Sam Ficken's career at Penn State could easily be the stuff of a compelling movie.

A mild-mannered kid from Indiana travels East, almost gets chased home by angry fans after a horrible game in his second outing as the team's regular kicker, improves with the help of a former Nittany Lion, and drills two successful kicks in his final college game to give the Lions their first bowl victory in five years.

Ficken kicked a game-tying, 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday and then capped the Pinstripe Bowl with what amounted to a walk-off extra point that gave Penn State a 31-30 victory over Boston College at Yankee Stadium.

"I mean, it's a storybook ending really," Ficken said. "I couldn't have written a better way for it to go. This team has worked so hard and fought through so much. To say you won the bowl, that's really incredible."

"We've been so clutch on field goals this year. It's not just me. The holds were perfect all day. The turf was a little tough so that's a testament to them making it easy for me."

Ficken also had a chance to win the game after BC's Mike Knoll missed the extra point after the Eagles' overtime touchdown.

"I never root for another kicker to miss because of what I went through," he said. "However, I was a little excited. After we got into the end zone, I was calm."

The 2014 season for Ficken ended the way it began - with a critical field goal. In the season opener in Ireland against Central Florida, he boomed a 36-yard field goal as time expired for a 26-24 victory. For the season, Ficken led the Big Ten with 24 field goals made, needing just 29 attempts.

It's a far cry from that 2012 game at Virginia, when he missed four field-goal attempts and an extra point in a 14-13 loss and received threats on Twitter. But with the help of former Penn State kicker Robbie Gould, now of the Chicago Bears, Ficken improved his technique and his consistency.

"Sam has been as consistent as any player in our program from the day he arrived," Penn State coach James Franklin said.

The Nittany Lions, as the home team, dressed in the Yankees' clubhouse for the game, and Ficken was given Derek Jeter's locker.

"The equipment staff made that happen for me," he said. "I guess that's what you get when you're nice to them. Obviously the way the game went, and the way my career has gone, it's kind of a funny thing"

"I couldn't have written a better was for it to go," he said.

No he could not.