No. 18 Penn State 33, Indiana 28: Nittany Lions put an end to 2-game skid

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No. 18 Penn State 33, Indiana 28: Nittany Lions put an end to 2-game skid


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Trace McSorley and No. 18 Penn State kept it simple to snap a two-game losing streak.

"We just took what was there," McSorley said.

McSorley passed for 220 yards, ran for 107 and had a hand in three touchdowns in Penn State's 33-28 victory over Indiana on Saturday.

Penn State (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) rallied after Indiana (4-4, 1-4) took a 21-20 lead in the third quarter on Steve Scott's 3-yard touchdown run.

Johnathan Thomas took the ensuing kickoff back to the Indiana 5, setting up McSorley for the go-ahead touchdown on the next play.

Brandon Wilson partially blocked the extra point, leaving Penn State's lead at 26-21. Indiana forced Penn State to punt on the Nittany Lions' next drive, but J-Shun Harris fumbled the punt return and turned the ball over. Five plays later, McSorley nearly walked into the end zone to make it 33-21 lead.

"Every time it seemed like we had the game in control and were able to put them away, they would battle back," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "We'll take this win, go back and watch the film, make corrections and get better."

The Hoosiers added a late touchdown Peyton Ramsey's 21-yard pass to Harris, and recovered an onside kick. Michael Penix and Ramsey split snaps for the Hoosiers, combining for 330 passing yards and a touchdown. Scott led Indiana in rushing with 138 yards and two touchdowns.

"Just a gut-wrenching loss for our team today. I thought our kids played their hearts out," Indiana coach Tom Allen said. "Proud of the effort. Just have to play better in certain situations and times, in critical moments."

Miles Sanders ran for 72 yards and a touchdown for Penn State.

The takeaway
Penn State: The Nittany Lions avoided stumbling at Indiana in what could easily be viewed as a trap game. Having lost two straight, Penn State simply couldn't afford to lose this one when considering the next three opponents on the Nittany Lions' schedule -- Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Indiana: The Hoosiers missed an opportunity to secure one of two more wins needed to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

Up next
Penn State: Host Iowa next Saturday.

Indiana: At Minnesota next Saturday.

No. 13 Penn State survives a scare from Pittsburgh

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No. 13 Penn State survives a scare from Pittsburgh

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 126-year rivalry between No. 13 Penn State and Pittsburgh is going on indefinite hiatus for the second time in a generation. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi gave both sides something to chew on until they meet again, no matter how long the break lasts.

Down a touchdown with the ball at the Penn State 1 and less than 5 minutes on the clock Saturday, Narduzzi opted to attempt a field goal on fourth down instead of going for it. Alex Kessman's 19-yard kick clanged off the left upright, helping give the Nittany Lions the breathing room they needed to escape with a 17-10 victory.

"You need two scores to win the football game, unless you guys are playing for overtime," Narduzzi said. "We're trying to win the football game."

The 53-year-old Narduzzi joked before the 100th clash between the schools separated by 139 miles that the next time they face off, he'll either be retired or "in a coffin." He was kidding at the time. The smile was gone as he tried to explain the rationale for taking the ball out of quarterback Kenny Pickett's hands three feet from tying it.

"Again, we can look back at all the calls, guys," Narduzzi said. "All the armchair quarterbacks, you guys got those armchair desks there. It's easy to make those decisions. We were throwing the ball. We threw for over 300 yards."

Yet needing just one to even it on the road late, the Panthers (1-2) came up short thanks in part to Penn State's defense. Pickett rolled out on first-and-goal at the 1 and threw the ball away while getting chased by linebacker Cam Brown. A read-option on second down went nowhere, with Pickett unable to churn past Garrett Taylor and Jesse Luketa. Brown harassed Pickett into an incompletion on third down and out trotted Kessman.

"Players, we're all in there saying `Let's go for it,'" said Pickett, who threw for career-high 372 yards. "We all have confidence in (each other). I know my guys. I love them. They played so hard. It's tough. A loss like this is tough."

The Panthers had one more chance to draw even, moving from the Pitt 16 to the Penn State 26. But Pickett's heave to Taysir Mack on the final snap was broken up by Brown and fell to the turf to give the Nittany Lions bragging rights for now and possibly forever. Penn State improved to 53-43-4 all-time against Pitt, including a 3-1 mark during a four-game renewal that began in 2016.

"We're happy to be 3-1 in the series, we're happy to be 1-0 (this week)," Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said.

Leaving Pitt 0-1, something Narduzzi insisted won't linger even after instituting a media blackout for his players leading up to the game and admitting it would feel like "winning the Super Bowl" to beat the Lions for a second time in four years.

"A loss is a loss," Narduzzi said. "It doesn't matter who it's to, when it is. It's a nonconference game. All our goals are still ahead of us. We've got a resilient football team that I love. We'll be fine. We'll be just fine."

The takeaway

Pitt: Five seasons into his tenure, the swaggering, aggressive defensive style Narduzzi cultivated during his long run as an assistant at Michigan State has finally become a part of the culture at Pitt. The secondary may be the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the defensive line looks capable even with starters Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp both done for the season with knee injuries.

Penn State: The offensive line had issues with Pitt's exotic blitz packages, allowing Clifford to be sacked three times and get hit hard a handful of others. That needs to be corrected with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State still on the schedule.

Cagey Clifford 

The Nittany Lions found the sledding far tougher following blowouts over Idaho and Buffalo to open the season.

Journey Brown ran for 109 yards and a touchdown and Noah Cain's 13-yard third-quarter sprint to the end zone gave the Nittany Lions the lead for good.

Sean Clifford completed 14 of 30 passes for 222 yards while spending most of the afternoon under heavy duress.

"He's a winner," Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth said of Clifford. "Our whole team knew he's a winner from the start. We could tell in camp. He's not going to go down easy. You can keep hitting him, but he's going to keep getting back up."

Poll implications 

Don't expect Penn State to inch closer to the Top 10 after being taken to the last play by a 17-point underdog.

End of the line?

While Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke and Penn State's Sandy Barbour haven't ruled out getting the schools back together down the line, for now there are no plans for a 101st meeting, giving the game in front of 108,661 an air of finality.

"It's a rivalry game. Chippy game. Crowd yelling stuff. And we're yelling back and going at it with the players on the field," Pickett said. "It's a great game. I'm sure somewhere down the road they're going to bring it back. There's no reason not to."

Up next 

Pitt: Welcomes No. 17 UCF to Heinz Field next Saturday. The Golden Knights drilled the Panthers 45-14 last year in Orlando.

Penn State: Off next week then opens Big Ten play by traveling to Maryland on Friday, Sept. 27. The Nittany Lions have beaten the Terrapins by a combined 104-6 in the last two meetings.

No. 15 Penn State shrugs off slow start to beat Buffalo

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No. 15 Penn State shrugs off slow start to beat Buffalo


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sean Clifford threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and No. 15 Penn State overcame a halftime deficit to beat Buffalo 45-13 on Saturday night.

Trailing 10-7 at half, the Nittany Lions (1-0) took the lead for good when John Reid ran back an interception 37 yards for a touchdown early in the third.

Clifford opened the scoring with a 28-yard pass to Jahan Dotson on Penn State's second drive of the game. He tossed a pair of TDs to tight end Pat Freiermuth in the third quarter and Noah Cain added a 2-yard TD run to give Penn State a 35-13 lead heading into the fourth.

Jake Pinegar added a 32-yard field goal for the Nittany Lions and Clifford found Dotson again in the fourth. Clifford finished as Penn State's leading rusher with 11 carries for 49 yards.

Jaret Patterson led Buffalo (1-1) with 75 yards on 23 carries. Matt Myers was 16 for 31 for 236 yards with a touchdown pass to tight end Julien Bourassa late in the second quarter.

Alex McNulty kicked a pair of field goals for the Bulls.

The takeaway

Buffalo: The daunting environment didn't seem to bother the young Bulls. They controlled the pace in the first half, running 46 plays for 27 yards to Penn State's 20 plays and 82 yards.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' strength is their defensive line and Buffalo's offensive front did a good job neutralizing Yetur Gross-Matos and his teammates for most of the first half. In the meantime, Clifford and his receivers were able to create some chemistry.

Poll implications 

Penn State cleaned up its mistakes at halftime, won going away and shouldn't be penalized for its slow start.

Up next

Buffalo plays at Liberty Saturday.

Penn State hosts Pittsburgh Saturday.