No. 8 Penn State Loses To Michigan State 21-17

No. 8 Penn State (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) fell to Michigan State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) for the second consecutive season in heartbreaking fashion.

Brian Lewerke’s game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left sunk the Nittany Lions by a final score of 21-17 and may have ruined their College Football Playoff hopes. In front of a fantastic Stripe Out crowd, Penn State’s defense shined while the offense struggled.

How It Happened

Michigan State opened up its first drive of the game from its own 25 yard-line. After a couple of first downs, the Penn State defense held strong and forced a punt from the Spartans. Trace McSorley marched down the field, but eventually coughed up the football on a run to give the Spartans possession again.

The next drive was much better for the Nittany Lions. Miles Sanders broke off a 78-yard run, putting Penn State on Michigan State’s five-yard line. Trace McSorley broke the all-time passing record at Penn State before finding KJ Hamler for a five-yard touchdown. The Nittany Lions took a 7-0 lead with 5:03 to play in the first quarter.

Michigan State pulled out the tricks on the last drive of the first quarter. The Spartans made a big gain on a fake punt. Later in the drive, Connor Heyward took a handoff that he threw downfield for a 36-yard gain to the Penn State one-yard line. The Spartans would eventually score to even things up at 7-7 with 13:25 to play in the second quarter.

With 4:33 remaining in the half, Miles Sanders broke off a beautiful 48-yard run, leaving a handful of Spartans on the ground along the way. Penn State took a 14-7 lead on the touchdown and would carry that advantage into the half.

At the half, Penn State had 166 rushing yards versus just 81 for the Spartans. Lewerke out-passed McSorley, though, as the quarterbacks threw for 93 yards and 72 yards, respectively.

With 9:44 remaining in the third quarter, Garrett Taylor picked off Ben Lewerke and returned it 37 yards to put the Nittany Lions in striking distance. The offense couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, though, as McSorley slipped on 4th and 4 and handed the ball back to Dantonio’s squad.

Lewerke tied things up with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter, firing a 20-yard pass to a wide open Felton Davis after a Penn State defensive back slipped in coverage. Just like that, the Spartans tied things up at 14-14.

With 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Pinegar came on to attempt a 37-yard field goal. The kick clanked off the right upright and bounced back into play, as the two sides stayed even at 14-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

After McSorley and Sanders put together a nice drive and got to Michigan State’s two-yard line, the offense couldn’t break through for a touchdown. Pinegar nailed a 20-yard field goal to give Penn State a 17-14 lead with 9:21 remaining in the game.

Dantonio opted to go for a fake field goal with 5:19 remaining in the game.  Garrett Taylor was there to make his fourth pass breakup of the game on a streaking receiver heading toward the end zone.

Penn State couldn’t do anything with its ensuing possession, but the Spartans got the ball back and could not score, either. Brian Lewerke was sacked by Yetur Gross-Matos and Robert Windsor on 3rd down to set up a punt, but the Spartans got the ball back after Penn State burned just 11 seconds of clock.

Michigan State had 79 seconds to drive down the field, and Brian Lewerke found Felton Davis for a 25-yard score with 19 seconds to play. That touchdown sunk the Nittany Lions and dropped their record to 4-2. 

Player of the Game

Miles Sanders | Running Back | Junior

Miles Sanders was one of the lone bright spots for Penn State on offense. His first half alone was incredibly impressive, breaking loose for a 78-yard run and a 48-yard touchdown. Sanders had 145 yards in the first half alone against what had been the best run defense in the country.

What’s Next

Penn State will travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers at 3:30 p.m. on October 20. 

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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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