Penn State Pulls Off Thrilling 29-26 OT Win Over Minnesota
James Franklin’s Nittany Lions persevered through a slow first half and rainy Beaver Stadium conditions to capture an enormous 29-26 win over Minnesota in overtime.
How It Happened
The Golden Gophers were expected to bring some heat on the ground, and they delivered. But the injury-plagued linebacking corps held strong and forced the Gophers to punt on their first possession. The Lions weren’t able to put together much of a drive despite being gifted a new set of downs after a Minnesota personal foul.
The teams traded blows until Saquon Barkley cracked off a big 23 yard run that got the Lions into Minnesota territory late in the first quarter. The drive produced nothing after James Franklin elected to gamble on fourth down a few plays after a successful conversion and came up well short. The Gophers answered back after Mitch Leidner’s bomb to the right sideline with a 37 yard field goal to take the lead.
The Lions stormed back on the ensuing possession after a beautiful deep throw from McSorley found DeAndre Thompkins on the right sideline. McSorley then took matters into his own hands and rushed to the one yard line, but Franklin opted to take the points on fourth and goal.
Both quarterbacks were on point throughout the first half, but the Lions simply couldn’t muster a successful drive. McSorley was hurried almost every play during a late drive toward the end of the half that resulted in a punt. The Lions couldn’t take advantage of explosive plays downfield, which factored into the lack of scoring production. The Lions could not contain receiver Drew Wolitarsky, who put up six catches for 53 yards and a score in the first half after Christian Campbell — one of Penn State’s tallest corners — went down with a lower body injury.
The Lions didn’t do much to switch things up to start the second half. Two consecutive throws to the flat followed by a failed third down conversion attempt by McSorley led to a quick change of possession. The Gophers couldn’t answer on their first drive of the half, and promptly booted the ball back to John Reid and Penn State.
Beaver Stadium became re-energized after a stellar run from Irvin Charles to the house. It looked like he’d be brought down around midfield, but the redshirt freshman kept on charging. The Lions reclaimed possession after a remarkable defensive stand that was assisted by Minnesota’s 15 yard interference penalty after John Reid was blown up before fielding the punt. Chris Godwin got fans back to their feet with a 36 yard grab to set up Tyler Davis for his 16th straight field goal — a new school record.
For the second week in a row, a Penn State defender was ejected from the game for targeting. This time, it was defensive tackle Curtis Cothran who was tossed after hitting Leidner late. The call itself was questionable, given that there wasn’t clear helmet-to-helmet contact.
Another ejection came after Minnesota’s Jaylen Waters blindsided a defenseless Joey Julius on a kickoff. Julius had to be helped off the field, and coaches had to restrain players from going to the Minnesota sideline. On the ensuing drive, running back Shannon Brooks found daylight and bolted past the entire Nittany Lion front seven on his way to the end zone.
Led by Marcus Allen’s 20 tackles, the Penn State defense held strong. Jordan Smith came up clutch as the Gophers got into the red zone, coming up with his first career interception. The drive led to another Penn State punt, which set up Minnesota’s penultimate drive.
The Golden Gophers would take a 23-20 lead with :54 seconds left on the clock, as Emmit Carpenter nailed a 37-yard field goal, but Penn State would respond with an immaculate drive to set up a field goal try of its own. Tyler Davis came up huge from 40 yards out to tie the ballgame with two seconds left. In overtime, Penn State won the toss and elected to play defense first. The defense provided clutch stop after clutch stop to force a field goal, which the Golden Gophers hit to take a 26-23 lead. Saquon Barkley burst up the middle for 25 yards on the next play to cap an amazing comeback and give the Nittany Lions a 29-26 win and the Governor’s Victory Bell.
Player Of The Game
Marcus Allen | Junior | Safety
Allen finished two tackles shy of tying the school record with a whopping 22 against the Golden Gophers. No other player came within 13 of Allen’s gaudy output.
The Nittany Lions will take on Maryland next Saturday in a noon Homecoming clash.
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About the Author
KJ Hamler’s phenomenal game propelled Penn State to a huge victory under White Out conditions.
Penn State’s linebackers played a huge role in Saturday’s nerve-wracking victory.
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