Penn State Beats Iowa 30-24 To Become Bowl Eligible
No. 17 Penn State beat No. 18 Iowa 30-24 on a rainy Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions secured bowl eligibility for the fifth straight season thanks to Nick Scott’s clutch interception with 3:18 remaining.
How It Happened
After a quick three-and-out, punter Blake Gillikin bobbled the snap and Iowa batted the ball through the back of the end zone for a safety. The Hawkeyes made it 5-0 on their next drive following a 27-yard Miguel Recinos field goal.
Iowa extended its lead on a fake field goal, as punter Colten Rastetter hit defensive lineman Sam Brincks for a 10-yard touchdown. McSorley answered by marching Penn State down the field and finding tight end Pat Freiermuth for an 18-yard score.
Iowa took a 14-7 lead with 13:39 left before the half on Penn State’s second safety of the afternoon. This time, Gillikin couldn’t corral Kyle Vasey’s errant snap and the ball scooted through the end zone again.
After seeing some snaps at his “Lion” position, Tommy Stevens entered the game at quarterback for an injured McSorley, who walked gingerly off the field on Penn State’s previous drive. Stevens scored on a 3-yard touchdown run following John Reid’s long interception return, then Recinos broke the tie on a 49-yard field goal.
Despite James Franklin icing his own kicker, Jake Pinegar tied things up again on a 45-yard field goal just before the intermission. Wearing a knee brace, McSorley gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game, 24-17, on a 51-yard rushing score down the left sideline.
Pinegar drilled a career-long 49-yard field goal that barely squeaked over the uprights with 4:10 to go in the third quarter. Geno Stone returned a McSorley interception 24 yards to the house to cut into Penn State’s lead, but Pinegar converted a 44-yard kick to make it 30-24.
In doing so, the Ankeny, Iowa, native became the first Penn State kicker since Sam Ficken in 2013 to make three field goals of 40 or more yards in a game. Pinegar has now converted six of his last seven attempts.
Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos delivered a second consecutive standout performance with a game-high nine tackles (two sacks). KJ Hamler, who had a 67-yard kick return, led all receivers with 96 yards on five catches. Brent Pry’s defense didn’t allow a single touchdown.
“It was a pretty impressive and gutsy performance by our defense
tonight,” Franklin said. “Trace McSorley is the best football player in college football. I don’t care what anyone says because he is as tough as it gets.”
Player of the Game
Nick Scott | Safety
The Fairfax, Virginia, native finished with five tackles and the game-saving pick.
“We talk about championship habits in our program a lot, and Nick is one of those guys who is doing everything right,” Franklin said. “I am a big Nick Scott fan.”
The Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) travel to Ann Arbor to face No. 5 Michigan next Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
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About the Author
Penn State earned a ranking in the preseason AP Top 25 poll for the third consecutive season.
The past five No. 15s in the preseason AP Top 25 poll have been a mixed bag of seven-loss mediocrity and 9-4 records, but the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs proved that starting at No. 15 isn’t all bad.
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