Saquon Barkley leads No. 9 Penn State to Fiesta Bowl win

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Saquon Barkley leads No. 9 Penn State to Fiesta Bowl win

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Converting on third downs had been a sore spot at Penn State, so coach James Franklin made it a point of emphasis in spring ball and fall camp.

The Nittany Lions kept working at it during the season and kept getting better, peaking at the perfect time.

Trace McSorley threw for 342 yards and had both of his touchdown passes to DaeSean Hamilton on third-down plays, helping No. 9 Penn State outlast No. 12 Washington 35-28 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.

"Our coaches did a fantastic job and the O line protected and the receivers made plays," Franklin said. "We were very efficient. We executed."

Penn State (11-2), No. 9 in the final College Football Rankings, had its way with Washington's vaunted defense early, building a 28-7 lead by the second quarter. Washington (10-3) woke up from an offensive slumber with two touchdowns and pulled to 35-28 on Myles Gaskins' 69-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies' inability to stop Penn State on third down kept them from getting any closer.

The Nittany Lions converted three third-down attempts on a final clock-winding drive and were 13 for 17 overall. Washington had a final shot with a desperation play of multiple laterals and passes, but Dante Pettis' final lateral was intercepted after he passed up a chance to step out of bounds to set up one more play.

"I think a lot of it was McSorley," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "He's buying time, getting out of there. And when we did get a little pressure on him, he stepped up nicely and took off and ran or bought time."

Washington had the nation's top run defense during the regular season, allowing 92 yards per game, but Saquon Barkley matched that on one run in the second quarter. Barkley had 137 of the Nittany Lions' 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns in what could be his final game if he decides to turn pro.

The Huskies, No. 11 CFP, gave up a season-high 545 total yards.

"They had us on our heels most of the night," Petersen said.

The Nittany Lions lost a chance at the CFP with consecutive losses to Ohio State and No. 24 Michigan State, but ended up in a familiar place: The Fiesta Bowl, where they had not lost in six previous trips.

Penn State raced toward No. 7 by going to the air early against the run-stingy Huskies.

McSorley picked Washington's secondary apart, hitting nine receivers for 219 yards in the first half. He connected with DaeSean Hamilton on a 48-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive, and set up scoring runs of 2 yards by Barkley and 1 yard by Miles Sanders.

Barkley then did it all himself, bursting through the left side for a 92-yard touchdown run to put Penn State up 28-7.

The Nittany Lions had 367 yards by halftime against a defense that allowed 277.4 yards per game during the regular season.

"We came out flat in the first half," Washington linebacker Tevis Bartlett said.

Washington was in the Fiesta Bowl for the first time, but Petersen had made a name for himself by trick-playing Boise State to a pair of Fiesta victories

Petersen reached into his trick-play bag to spark Washington from an early funk, calling a double pass that led to 52-yard gain to tight end Drew Sample. That set up Jake Browning's 1-yard TD dive.

The Huskies turned a recovered fumble into a much-needed touchdown just before halftime, cutting Penn State's lead to 28-14 on Gaskin's 13-yard run.

Another big score came right after halftime: Browning 28 yards to Aaron Fuller.

But Penn State answered on another third down, when McSorley hit Hamilton on a 24-yard TD pass to put Penn State up 35-21.

"(Hamilton's TD) was really, really important, because momentum was starting to swing there," Franklin said.

Browning's quiet day
Browning has been one of the nation's most prolific passers during his career, but found little room to operate against Penn State's secondary. He missed on several throws and finished with 175 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-28 passing.

Big picture
Penn State could wonder what might have been in the CFP, but a Fiesta Bowl is a nice way to close out the season.

Washington's defense had its worst outing of the season at the worst possible time.

Up next
Barkley is a junior, but could decide to leave for the NFL. So is McSorley and the Nittany Lions should have most of their offensive line back.

Washington will lose two offensive line starters and receiver/punt returner Pettis to graduation, but gets back most of its defense. Browning, Gaskin and DL Vita Vea also are juniors, if they decide to stay in school.

Penn State comes up short in overtime

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Penn State comes up short in overtime

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dupree McBrayer scored 14 of a career-high 24 points in the second half and overtime and Minnesota beat Penn State 95-84 on Monday night.

Nate Mason added 25 points and Jordan Murphy scored 22 and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Golden Gophers (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Tony Carr scored 33 points, Mike Watkins added 20 and 11 rebounds and Lamar Stevens chipped in 12 for Penn State (13-7, 3-4).

Minnesota made 53 percent of its field goals on 35-for-66 shooting. That included a 10-for-17 pace from 3-point range with three coming in overtime after the Golden Gophers gave up a 13-point lead with 8:56 to play.

McBrayer hit a jumper then to put Minnesota up with its largest lead of the game at 63-50 but Penn State raced back with a 15-2 run. Mike Watkins capped Penn State's surge with his second steal, sprinted the other way for a dunk that tied it 65.

The teams traded baskets down the stretch before Carr sank a 3-pointer with three seconds left to make it 74-all and force overtime.

Big Picture
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers needed some positive energy. Losers of three straight since star Reggie Lynch was suspended and talented sophomore Amir Coffey was hurt, a win to kick off an East Coast road trip featuring three games in six days should boost their morale.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions need Josh Reaves back. They looked listless at points in this one without arguably their most fiery player. Notably, Penn State has allowed nearly 10 more points per game with their best defender suspended for academic reasons.

Up Next
Minnesota travels to Maryland on Thursday.

Penn State travels to Northwestern on Saturday.

Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

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Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tony Carr has had some nice second-half efforts lately. Penn State's top shooter saved most of his best stuff for overtime on Friday.

Carr scored nine of his 17 points, including a game-winning long jumper with three seconds left in overtime, and Penn State beat Nebraska 76-74 and secure Pat Chambers' 100th win as Penn State's coach on Friday?night.

Lamar Stevens scored 26 points and Mike Watkins added 20 and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten), who led by as many as 16 in the second half.

But it was Carr, who notched 18 of 28 in the second half at Indiana on Tuesday, who wrestled control back with tough makes through crowds of defenders in the final five minutes.

"Tony had the guts to come out and hit some big shots for us when he didn't have the best shooting night," Chambers said.

When Carr was working to find his shot, Stevens was taking over in a fashion that's become typical for him of late. The hybrid forward entered the game averaging 22 points over the last three.

He quickly kept at it with 10 of Penn State's first 19 points and Penn State closed out the first half on a 21-9 run and led 33-24. Nebraska made just five of its final 14 field goals in that span and finished the first half 9-for-32 from the floor.

"You can't just get blasted in the first half like that," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "We have to be more prepared to battle with a guy who's a warrior like that because he just attacks the rim."

Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland scored 21 points apiece while Isaiah Roby and Anton Gill scored 12 and 10, respectively, for the Cornhuskers (12-7, 3-3).

Shep Garner made a 3-pointer to give Penn State its largest lead at 42-26 just over two minutes into the second half.

But the Huskers fought back from there and switched to a press look to slow Penn State's offense.

They put together a 39-23 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Copeland and Watson that made it a two-point game with?3:28?to play. They combined for four free throws and Watson hit the final shot of regulation moments later to send it to overtime 65-65.

The big picture
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were on a good stretch with five wins in six tries before?Friday's?game. Runs like that could come more often if they shoot better. Nebraska entered the Bryce Jordan Center shooting just 43 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range for the season.

Penn State: All three of Penn State's conference losses have come by six or fewer points and although they played a poor-shooting team in this one, the Nittany Lions have enough talent committed to playing defense to keep even good offenses at bay. Whether they can outscore those teams, or hold on to big leads, remains to be seen.

No Reaves
Penn State was again without its top defender as Josh Reaves sat out a second straight game for academic reasons. Reaves leads the team and is 15th nationally with 2.47 steals per game. He's chipped in 10.8 points per game, too.

Awaiting word on Tshimanga
Nebraska was without starting center Jordy Tshimanga, who did not make the trip to Penn State as he mulls whether to transfer. Multiple outlets reported Tshimanga's frustration with the way his season has unfolded.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore started all 18 games previously and was averaging 3.5 points and 5.1 rebounds over 15.2 minutes per game.

Miles said he couldn't offer an update yet on Tshimanga's status.

"I won't know until I get home," he said.

Up next
Nebraska hosts Illinois (10-8, 0-5)?on Monday.

Penn State hosts Minnesota (13-5, 2-3) on Monday.