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Penn State Offense, Defense Show Moxie In Overtime Win

The Nittany Lions couldn’t put the Appalachian State Mountaineers away on Saturday with any amount of ease. No matter how much the momentum seemed to favor Penn State at various points, App State always came climbing back.

Still, individual Penn State players stepped up when it mattered most time and time again.

James Franklin’s squad was dealt some pretty significant body blows throughout the game. After an impressive drive downfield that ended in a rushing touchdown from Trace McSorley, Darrynton Evans took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house to even things up at 7-7.

After heading into the half tied up at 10-10, the Nittany Lions really seemed to have all of the momentum. Touchdowns from McSorley and freshman running back Ricky Slade put the game out of reach — or so we thought. 

The Mountaineers deserve a lot of credit, especially because some of the drives they put together in response to falling behind by two touchdowns. 

“First and foremost, I want to give App State all the credit in the world,” Franklin said. “They do a great job. I think they had a really good plan today.”

They had an undeniably good plan, as well as some fantastic execution. Malik Williams gave the Penn State secondary fits all afternoon, as evidenced by these two touchdowns:

To some extent, you have to chalk up the comeback to good execution. Williams’ second touchdown catch of the game came from an inch-perfect pass from Zac Thomas.

Then, the Mountaineers took the lead…

I mean, it’s hard to call that particularly good defense. But the response from the offense is what should be heartening to Penn State fans. The Nittany Lions took possession back with just 1:47 remaining in the game, when KJ Hamler made a gutsy decision to return the kick from the end zone after a stutter — and he returned it to the 48-yard line. Moxie.

Trace McSorley found Polk on 4th and 2 with under a minute remaining. Moxie. Then, Hamler came through clutch again when he snatched the game-tying touchdown with 42 seconds left. Moxie.

“We got a lot of belief in KJ,” Franklin said in his postgame press conference. “This is really the first football game he’s played in two years…but we see this stuff from him all the time.”

Hamler had been impressing his coaches for good reason, and the clutch genes of both McSorley and Hamler made the difference on that final drive. Miles Sanders was the man in overtime, putting the offense on his back and bursting into the end zone.

And, of course, it was Amani Oruwariye who sealed the deal in overtime with an interception.

Not every game is going to be a walk in the park. The Nittany Lions were challenged probably before they were expecting it, but that’s where players like McSorley make a difference. He knows a thing or two about 4th-down situations with everything on the line.

Players were going to have to step up this season in the absence of Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, Grant Haley, and Marcus Allen (among others). What Miles Sanders, KJ Hamler, and Amani Oruwariye showed today is that the stage is not too big for them. 

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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