No. 17 Penn State escapes No. 18 Iowa with late stands

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No. 17 Penn State escapes No. 18 Iowa with late stands

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley visited the injury tent. Not much in there, he said. Just a table for him to sit on while his right knee was being checked out in the second quarter of Penn State's game against Iowa.

"It's kind of cramped," McSorley said.

The senior quarterback, barely 6-feet tall and 200 pounds but able to carry Penn State's offense, has started 35 straight games and only has two more left at Beaver Stadium. He was not about to sit out the second half of this one.

McSorley returned after giving Penn State a scare, and the 17th-ranked Nittany Lions made two late defensive stands to escape No. 18 Iowa 30-24 on Saturday, avoiding a third straight home loss.

Nittany Lions safety Nick Scott intercepted a pass at the 2 with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter to thwart one Hawkeyes drive and Penn State (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) needed one more stop after that. Iowa (6-2, 3-2) drove to the Nittany Lions 44 in the final minute.

On fourth-and-10 with 7 seconds remaining, Penn State's pass rush swarmed Nate Stanley, who flipped backward to offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. The 300-pounder rumbled 15 yards before being dragged down with no time left.

It was a fitting end to what Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz called "kind of an unusual game," with little sustained offense on a chilly and rainy day. Iowa had two safeties and a touchdown pass by punter Colten Rastetter to defensive tackle Sam Brincks on a faked field goal in the first half, and a pick-six in the second half.

Penn State played three series in the second quarter without McSorley.

"Gutsy win," Penn State coach James Franklin said.

McSorley was sandwiched by two Hawkeyes as he tried to scramble and stayed down, grabbing his right leg. The Beaver Stadium crowd fell silent as athletic trainers attended to him. McSorley got up with assistance and limped off.

Tommy Stevens played the next two series at quarterback for Penn State, scoring on a 3-yard run. He also led a short drive late in the first half to set up Jake Pinegar's career-best 45-yard field goal to make it 17-all. The freshman kicker from Iowa added a 49-yarder in the third quarter and 44-yarder in the fourth.

McSorley went back in for one series in the first half and Penn State went three-and-out.

On the sideline, he got encouragement from his sister and his father. He tried to stay loose, riding the stationary bike, running and cutting.

Franklin said he planned to start the second half with Stevens.

"Trace has earned the right to tell us if he thinks he can go," Franklin said. "I said: `Look I need to the whole package. I can't just have a pro-style quarterback. I got to have more than that.'"

Wearing a knee brace, McSorley delivered. On Penn State's first possession, he broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run to give the Nittany Lions their first lead, 24-17, with 12:10 left in the third quarter.

"I wasn't really going to know until I got out there," said McSorley, who finished with 167 yards passing and 63 rushing.

Trailing 30-24 in the fourth quarter, Iowa drove to first-and-goal at the 3 with 3:30 left. But Stanley threw a quick pass toward star tight end Noah Fant, who was not looking.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes were discombobulated and should have called a timeout.

"I was just trying to change the play based on the look that they gave us," said Stanley, who was 18 for 49 for 205 yards and two interceptions. "I just tried to rush it with the play clock running down. I just should have taken the timeout."

Scott jumped up and made the interception.

"This one's going to hurt," Ferentz said.

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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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.