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No. 4 Penn State Stuns Iowa 21-19 On Last-Second Touchdown

No. 4 Penn State stole last-second glory from Iowa’s grasp on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to Juwan Johnson as time expired.

The Nittany Lions pulled out an all-time thriller in Iowa City, prevailing 21-19 over the Hawkeyes to remain unbeaten at 4-0 on the season.

How It Happened

Andrew Nelson got the start at right tackle for the Nittany Lions, while Shareef Miller donned No. 19 to honor injured teammate Torrence Brown, who was carted off during last week’s win over Georgia State. A week after starting at left guard, redshirt freshman Will Fries eventually replaced Nelson at right tackle.

After punting its first two drives, Penn State drove down to the Iowa door steep before settling for a 19-yard Tyler Davis field goal with 1:01 left in the first quarter.

The Nittany Lions were more methodical than usual on offense, chewing up 11:40 of game clock in the opening quarter, as Saquon Barkley racked up 76 all-purpose yards. Davis trotted back on the field for a 41-yard attempt with 10:38 left before halftime, but pushed it wide left following a poor snap and hold.

Irvin Charles downed Blake Gillikin’s picture-perfect punt at the Iowa 1-yard line a few drives later, then Miller wrapped up Akrum Wadley for a safety to make it 5-0 Nittany Lions with 7:40 to go in the second quarter. Trace McSorley threw an untimely interception to Josey Jewell, who returned it 33 yards then taunted McSorley with his signature home-run celebration.

On the very next play, Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley hit Nick Easley from 21 yards out to give the Hawkeyes a 7-5 lead with 37 seconds on the clock. During his halftime interview on the field, James Franklin simply said, “Luckily we can fall back on last year. Second half team.”

DeAndre Thompkins went down in pain early in the third quarter, but thankfully he was able to walk off under his own power. As the Nittany Lions marched into Iowa territory, Barkley put a Hawkeye defender on skates and nearly crossed the goal line. But Penn State would have to settle for another Davis field goal from 21 yards to make it 8-7 following three straight stalled plays.

Marcus Allen and Grant Haley connected for another huge turnover as Allen jarred the ball loose from Wadley’s grasp and Haley scooped it up. Barkley would soon become the seventh player in program history to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards, scoring from 8 yards out to extend Penn State’s lead to 15-7 with 5:16 left in the third quarter.

Haley nearly came down with his sixth career pick, but the call on the field was reversed by none other than John O’Neill, who called this an interception in the 2014 Ohio State game. Penn State would fumble on its next offensive series, as A.J. Epenesa forced a McSorley fumble that Jewell recovered. However, Troy Apke blocked Miguel Recinos’ 36-yard field goal try to keep it an eight-point ballgame.

Left tackle Ryan Bates made a potentially game-saving play on a would-be McSorley fumble, somehow managing to secure the football and prevent a turnover. But Akrum Wadley soon weaved 70 yards to the house to draw the Hawkeyes within two of the lead, 15-13. They failed to convert the two-point try.

Barkley conjured up another jaw-dropping hurdle on a screen, this time soaring over Joshua Jackson and bouncing Amani Hooker off the turf with authority. But Iowa answered again on a 35-yard Wadley touchdown to take the lead, 19-15, with 1:42 to go. Penn State miraculously drove 80 yards on 12 plays as Juwan Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown as time expired to save the season.

Player Of The Game

Saquon Barkley | Junior | Running back

Barkley tallied 358 all-purpose yards and a touchdown — a new school record for a single game.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return home to face Indiana next Saturday at 3:30 on Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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