On Memorial Day 2012, then-Penn State Football head coach Bill O’Brien announced that the Nittany Lions’ game against Navy next season would be the program’s first military appreciation day.
In that game, Penn State’s passing attack resulted in a 34-7 victory over the Midshipmen, which was O’Brien’s first win as head coach of the Nittany Lions.
Quarterback Matt McGloin completed 13 of 21 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns, many of which were to his favorite target, (then) future All-American Allen Robinson. A-Rob caught five passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns that day.
Ten years later, Military Appreciation Day is still an annual event in the Penn State football program, which usually includes a carryover at the end of the national anthem.
Another tradition is that one of the Penn State football players, who has a family member in the military, leads the team out of the tunnel with an American flag, leads them across the field, and hands them over to their loved one in the North End Zone.
Last season, it was running back Noah Cain who had the honor.
Some others who have carried the flag in recent years include Daniel George in 2020, Cam Brown in 2019 and Amani Oruwariye in 2018.
When Penn State honored those who served in a game against Indiana and their families in 2019, one family in particular received a special surprise.
Some other notable Military Appreciation Day games for Penn State Football over the past decade include a 30-13 win over Temple in 2014, making bowl qualifiers for the first time since NCAA sanctions were imposed.
Defense led the way in this instance as the Nittany Lions collected four interceptions, one each from Adrian Amos, Grant Haley, Jesse Della Valle and Chris Campbell. Akeel Lynch added 130 rushing yards on 18 carries that day, including a touchdown.
In 2018, No. 18 Iowa came to Happy Valley to face off against the No. 17 Nittany Lions on a dreary and rainy day of military appreciation. In a brave performance, a battered Trace McSorley helped lead the offense with his legs, breaking up a 51-yard touchdown rush early in the third quarter to give Penn State the lead.
Yetur Gross-Matos had a couple of sacks that day, and a Nick Scott redzone interception late in the fourth quarter sealed a 30-24 win over the Hawkeyes in a game where the Nittany Lions were 12-0 at one point left behind.
Each year, fans can donate seats to the Military Appreciation Day game for military members, veterans and their families. Click here to learn more about how to donate and/or request tickets.
*Disclaimer – this link refers to last year’s donation information as this year’s Military Appreciation Day has not yet been officially announced, but contact information is likely to remain the same for this year.
This year’s Military Appreciation Day will likely occur on November 12 when the Maryland Terrapins come to town, as the school usually tries to schedule it as close to Veterans Day, November 11, as possible.
Penn State has never lost a Military Appreciation Day game, so they will look to extend that streak in 2022.