No. 9 Penn State emerged victorious in a thrilling Fiesta Bowl Saturday afternoon, beating No. 11 Washington 35-28 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The Nittany Lions outgained the Huskies 545-331 in Ricky Rahne’s debut as Penn State’s new offensive coordinator. They are now a perfect 7-0 in the Fiesta Bowl.
How It Happened
Penn State struck first on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton. After forcing a Washington punt, the Nittany Lions quickly marched down the field again, only to see Byron Murphy pick off McSorley deep in the end zone.
Saquon Barkley made it 14-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter, doing a flat-spin 360 for a score from two yards out. Jake Browning helped the Huskies cut the deficit to 14-7 on a 1-yard quarterback keeper the very next drive.
Sophomore running back Miles Sanders soon gave the Nittany Lions a two-score lead on a 1-yard touchdown of his own. Barkley turned in an instant classic on Penn State’s next series, darting 92 yards down the left sideline to tie Bill Belton (Indiana, 2014) for the longest run in program history and give the Nittany Lions a 28-7 advantage.
Washington’s Myles Gaskin closed the gap on a 13-yard direct snap up the middle to make it 28-14 heading into the half. With new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne at the helm, Penn State posted a ridiculous 367 yards of total offense before the break.
Aaron Fuller hauled in a 28-yard touchdown catch to give the Huskies some momentum to start the third quarter, helping them pull within one score of the lead. Hamilton set a new Penn State record with his fourth career touchdown catch in a bowl game with 5:59 left in the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions held on despite Gaskin’s 69-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make it a one-score game once more. Tyler Davis missed a 45-yard field goal with 34 seconds left. Seniors Marcus Allen and Brandon Smith led the defense with seven tackles apiece in the victory, with Smith corralling a late lateral to seal it.
Player Of The Game
Saquon Barkley | Junior | Running back
Barkley put up 175 yards of total offense and two touchdowns on just 25 touches.
Penn State heads into the offseason brimming with confidence after its second 11-win campaign in a row.