No. 10 Penn State avoids upset with OT win over Appalachian State

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No. 10 Penn State avoids upset with OT win over Appalachian State

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.  — After squandering a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead to a program with a history of being a giant killer, things grew tense in Happy Valley.

Not for Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful led a game-tying drive with less than a minute to go to force overtime and No. 10 Penn State rebounded to hold off Appalachian State 45-38 exactly 11 years after the Mountaineers stunned Michigan in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

With two defenders in his face, McSorley, who was 21-for-36 passing for 230 yards and two rushing touchdowns, fired off his back foot to KJ Hamler for the 15-yard score with 42 seconds left. Penn State's defense held on to send the game to overtime where Miles Sanders scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Nittany Lions (1-0) and cornerback Amani Oruwariye intercepted a Zac Thomas pass in the end zone to seal the win.

"I don't know what's in the water in Boone, North Carolina, but it seems like they've been doing this for a long time against whoever they play," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "I started the game at 46 years old. I ended it at 51."

McSorley went on the field with 1:47 left and his team trailing 38-31 after watching the Mountaineers score on three straight possessions over 5:53 in the fourth quarter. Any stress?

"Not really," McSorley said. "I think it's just because I love playing football and I think that's the best thing about our team. Everyone loves playing football. There's no one out there who's nervous."

Sanders, who played well in Saquon Barkley's shadow the last two seasons, looked calm taking over primary rushing duties. He ran 19 times for 91 yards with two touchdowns, but it took a Jake Pinegar field goal to let Penn State head into halftime in a 10-10 tie.

In fact, the Mountaineers controlled much of the game before that and rebounded after surrendering two scoring drives to open the third. Thomas, who was briefly knocked out of the game after being sandwiched violently between defenders early in the fourth, led the way in front of more than 105,000 people, Penn State's largest home-opening crowd in a decade.

Making his first career start, Thomas completed 25 of 38 passes for 270 yards, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another for Appalachian State (0-1). Jalin Moore ran 18 times for 88 yards and scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 16-yard run. Malik Williams caught two touchdowns for the Mountaineers and Chandler Staton added a 38-yard field goal.

"That was a resounding yes that we won't back down, we will keep fighting," Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said. "That's the heart of our program for the last 30 years. (At least) since I've been here."

History nearly repeats

In 2007, it was No. 5. Michigan fighting for its life trying to make a game-winning kick at home against the I-AA Mountaineers. But Corey Lynch blocked Michigan's field-goal attempt to seal the 34-32 win. No I-AA team had ever beaten a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 poll between 1989 and 2006, and it's unlikely it had ever happened before. Afterward, the AP changed the way it conducted its poll, allowing schools from all divisions to be eligible to receive votes.

On Saturday, another storied Big Ten program was on its heels against the Mountaineers, a Sun Belt Conference powerhouse that went 8-4 a year ago. There was a late field-goal try, too, but the 56-yard bid from Staton sailed wide right to set up OT.

The takeaway 

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers continued their trend of playing Top 25 teams tough in season openers. Two years ago, they also lost in overtime on the road to a top 10 opponent (20-13 to No. 9 Tennessee) and hung tough against Georgia last season. They controlled play for much of the first half and looked poised to deliver another stunning performance after their 2007 stunner over Michigan in The Big House. Despite the loss, they appear to have the pieces to make a run at what would be at their third straight Sun Belt championship.

Penn State: Having lost their three top playmakers and vaunted offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who took over as Mississippi State's head coach, the Nittany Lion offense looks like a work in progress. McSorley can do plenty with his legs if he and his receivers aren't on the same page but Penn State's defense couldn't get a stop in the fourth quarter where the Nittany Lions were outgained and outscored 28-14.

Poll implications

Penn State: It wasn't a pretty showing by any means, but the Nittany Lions have enough talent and one of the best players in the country in McSorley to stay among the poll's elites.

Up next

Appalachian State travels to Charlotte on Sept. 8

Penn State visits Pittsburgh on Sept. 8.

Former Penn State, NFL DT Brandon Noble takes his turn to help amid coronavirus outbreak

Former Penn State, NFL DT Brandon Noble takes his turn to help amid coronavirus outbreak

Former Penn State and NFL defensive tackle Brandon Noble is taking the lessons he learned during his football career and applying them to the fight against the coronavirus. Noble, who owns the Bright Spot Cafe in Exton, Pennsylvania, along with his partners Tommy and Shannon Brower, is delivering meals to healthcare workers at various hospitals.

The idea originated from a phone call and took on a life of its own.

"A friend of Tommy called and asked if we could put together a lunch for the nurses at Paoli Hospital," Noble said in an interview Monday with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark. "This guy had a friend who worked there and he just wanted to send them a meal. So we did it, we took it down there and we saw the appreciation from the staff at the hospital that they had a hot meal individually packaged and rolled up to the door for them.

"You can just see it in their eyes because everyone is obviously wearing masks now. It kind of snowballed from there, people are calling us, reaching out to us and they're asking to buy meals for different hospitals and wings of different departments. It's really cool."

Noble and his partners have delivered about 2,000 meals over the last two weeks. He's urging people to get involved and donate money and meals by visiting his restaurant's website — brightspotexton.com. The restaurant is matching all donations in an effort to support and feed as many healthcare workers as possible.

"Playing football for as long as I did, I've had plenty of surgeries, I've had the health issues, I've been in the hospital," Noble said. "I understand how important these people are and right now they're under a lot of stress. There's a lot going on, they're laying it on the line every day for the rest of us. So going in and helping them out, absolutely it feels good. One thing about this country, the people here, we take care of each other."

Noble pointed to one health scare in particular from his playing career that greatly impacted his view of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. 

"I was one of the first guys in the NFL to get MRSA back in 2004," Noble said. "I had a routine operation and I woke up a few days later and I had this really bad hot spot in my knee and it kind of escalated from there. I ended up being unconscious in my living room during my daughter's 2nd birthday party. My mother-in-law is a nurse and she told my wife to take me to the hospital. They rolled me into the emergency room and the doctors told us if we had waited another 12 hours I would have lost my leg and I might have died.

"I spent 10 days in the hospital getting taken care of. I was a professional athlete, a football player, 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds and I couldn't walk without help. Those people kept me alive. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and what they do. They're taking care of people who are scared, who are hurt, who are in a bit of an unknown situation right now."

Noble lives in Chester Springs and is the defensive coordinator at Downingtown East High School. He's teaching his players the same lessons about football he learned long ago, lessons that led him to take action during these uncertain times. 

"Football is one of those great places where there are people from all over, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all sorts of family backgrounds, different geographic locations," Noble said. "You're all thrown into this room and you're told that you're going to win or lose depending on the guy next to you. How can you help that guy? How can you be there when it's your turn to help? 

"That's what football is all about. It's a great team sport, the best team sport. It teaches those of us who play it and coach it that's it all about the guy next to you. If you love the guy next to you and he loves you, you're going forward and great things will happen." 

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No. 21 Penn State beats No. 23 Iowa at packed Palestra

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

No. 21 Penn State beats No. 23 Iowa at packed Palestra

BOX SCORE

Izaiah Brockington scored 23 points to lead No. 21 Penn State to its fifth straight win, 89-86 over No. 23 Iowa on Saturday at the Palestra.

Luka Garza scored 34 points for the Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten), but he missed three crucial free throws down the stretch that helped the Nittany Lions win in front of a raucous home crowd on Philly's most famous court. Garza, who scored 44 points last month at Michigan, scored 12 straight points in one stretch in the first half but missed two foul shots with 3:21 left in the game and Iowa clinging to a two-point lead.

Curtis Jones put Penn State in front with a 3-pointer that rocked the building. Garza went 1 of 2 from the line to even the score at 79-all, but Mike Watkins delivered for PSU with a go-ahead dunk. Penn State forced a turnover and Lamar Stevens sealed it with a late layup.

Stevens and Myreon Jones each scored 16 points for the Nittany Lions (12-2, 2-1).

Penn State coach Pat Chambers might finally have a team he can take to the NCAA Tournament in his ninth season.

Penn State might want to petition to play all its Big Ten games at the Palestra. The Nittany Lions got the best of Iowa and coach Fran McCaffery, a former Penn standout who played home games at the Palestra.

Penn State barely averaged an announced attendance of 10,000 fans last season at its on-campus arena, the Bryce Jordan Center. But 193 miles down the road at the Palestra, the heart of Philly hoops, the steamy gym was packed. Tickets on the secondary market were going for $150 a seat in the corners - or, "Corners! as its known when the Palestra is sold out -- and fans arrived early to walk the concourse that serves as much as a hall of fame as it does a stop for a $4 hot dog.

Walk past the pictures of Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain in their high school uniforms, and there's a photo of McCaffery in his No. 23 Penn jersey. The caption read, "Fran McCafferty, 1979-82, was integral in three Ivy League Championship titles for the Quakers." McCaffery walked in the same concourse doors Saturday as fans and fist-bumped a row of black-and-gold wearing supporters. Yes, even an Ivy League school can't ace spelling -- there's no T in McCaffery -- and McCaffery left with another unwanted letter: an L.

Penn State alumni roared "We Are!" from the opening tip and the Palestra decibel meter hit 11 when the Nittany Lions seemed poised to break the game open. Seth Lundy and Myles Dread hit 3s, Stevens turned a steal into a fast-break layup and another Penn State steal ended with a Stevens dunk and a 35-27 lead. Iowa collected itself and Dread's jumper to end the half gave the Hawkeyes a 39-38 lead.

Stevens sparked the idea of PSU making a return trip to Palestra. A graduate of Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High School, Stevens badgered Chambers about playing a game at the Palestra before his career ended. He surely could not have imagined a showdown between two nationally ranked teams going basket-for-basket in front of a packed house once Iowa agreed to play in Philly.

Big picture

Iowa: The Hawkeyes can only hope this kind of loss won't cost them an NCAA Tournament bid.

Penn State: Penn State played its first game as a ranked team against a ranked team for the first time since 1996. Chambers found little success over his first eight seasons, and has failed to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament. But powered by a deep, veteran roster, the Nittany Lions cracked the Top 25 this season for the first time since March 1996.

Up next

Iowa plays Tuesday at Nebraska.

Penn State plays Tuesday at Rutgers.