UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State senior linebacker Gerald Hodges, of Paulsboro, N.J., led a superlative defensive effort Saturday in handing then No. 24 Northwestern its first loss of the season and has earned his third career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor.
A candidate for the Bednarik and Butkus awards and the Nagurski Trophy, Hodges’ selection marks the third time in the past four weeks a Nittany Lion has been selected the conference’s top defensive player, with fellow linebacker Michael Mauti earning the honor after the Navy and Illinois games.
Coach Bill O’Brien’s Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0) have won four straight games entering their bye week. Penn State is back in action at Iowa (3-2, 1-0) on Oct. 20 for an 8 p.m. kickoff on the Big Ten Network and then returns to Beaver Stadium to face No. 8 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) for a 6 p.m. kickoff and an all-stadium Penn State WhiteOut. The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are tied atop the Big Ten Leaders Division.
A 2011 first-team All-Big Ten selection, Hodges led another stellar Penn State defensive performance in the 39-28 comeback win over Northwestern. He recorded a season-high tying 11 tackles, with 1.5 TFL, a forced fumble and two pass breakups. Hodges ended any comeback hopes by the Wildcats late in the game by forcing a fumble that was recovered by freshman cornerback Da’Quan Davis.
Hodges led a Penn State defense that held Northwestern to season-lows in total yards (247), rushing yards (112) and first downs (14), one week after the Wildcats logged a school record 704 yards of total offense, as well as 394 rushing yards and 36 first downs, in a win over Indiana. Led by Hodges, the Nittany Lions forced four straight Northwestern three-and-outs to start the game (six total) and the Wildcats went 4 of 13 on third down on the day. Penn State also became the first team to keep Northwestern off the scoreboard in the first quarter this season.
Hodges previously earned the conference’s weekly honor last season, earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Week accolades following the Northwestern and Illinois games. The former Paulsboro High School standout made a then career-high 14 tackles and returned an interception 63 yards versus the Wildcats and rewrote his career-best with 19 hits against the Illini.
For the season, Hodges is second on the team and 10th in the Big Ten with 50 tackles, has 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a team-high three pass breakups.
Tickets for the Nittany Lions’ remaining home games with Ohio State (Oct. 27), Indiana (Nov. 17) and Wisconsin (Nov. 24) are available. Ticket purchases and information is available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or fans can call Penn State athletics Customer Relations at 1-800-NITTANY (648-8269) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The pricing of 2012 Penn State football season tickets and accompanying donation levels is the same as in 2011. Pre-paid, single-game parking passes for the general parking lots ($10) are also available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets.