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It was exactly three years ago on January 2nd in Jacksonville, Florida that #9 stepped into the shoes of our fallen QB and officially introduced himself to Nittany Nation. He led a furious comeback that fell just short against Georgia but on that day, a legend was born, and his name was Trace McSorley. The rest, as they say, is history. Maybe fittingly, the ride ended just as it began, no matter how much we wanted that win in Orlando over the Kentucky Wildcats.

In the end, a dismal performance by our special teams and an exceptional defense that wore down on the final drive did us in, but it most definitely was not for lack of trying one last time for #9. He may have been hobbled (a broken foot reportedly) and hurt but there was just enough magic left in the tank to keep us all on the edge of our seats with the shadow of the Magic Kingdom looking on. There was just enough lion left in his heart to show us all one last time how much of a warrior he truly is.

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A win would have been the icing on the cake but in the end, the legacy of #9 has already been cemented in stone. Penn State may have lost to Kentucky 27-24, but Trace McSorley has no reason to hang his head nor do the other 19 that buckled up the chinstrap of that plain white helmet with the solid blue stripe for the last time. They left it all out on the field and then some. They could have folded, down 20, with little going right. Lord knows plenty of us had already, but they didn’t. They could have waved the flag of defeat but instead, they reached deep and came back swinging. A loss is never good when you expect to win them all, but when you go down with a fight, it stings just a little less and these Nittany Lions fought until their last breath on New Year’s Day in sunny Florida.

It’s inevitable that #9 gets most of the press but men like Koa, Amani, DeAndre, and Nick had as much to do with where we are today as Trace. There are no last names needed for them. A win over Kentucky would not make or break that. They came, they saw, they conquered. They won hard-fought battles against most of their opponents but more importantly the destroyed the bad stigma and tarnish that was unfairly handed to the university they chose to attend. Trust me, my friends, I would much rather be sitting here basking in the glow of victory, but as we’ve neared the end of the road, I can’t help but think that #9 and his Lions won so much more than we ever expected when they chose to represent Penn State!

Eric Herrold was born in State College and has bled Penn State Blue and White ever since. He is currently the proud owner/coordinator of the rapidly growing Facebook fanpage Nittany Nation, as well as a member of Success With Honor, the non-profit charitable organization. Eric currently resides in Richmond, Virginia spreading Penn State cheer and goodwill to all that will listen!

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