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Penn State Football Defeats Alaska-Anchorage 24-21 On Game-Winning Field Goal

Penn State football (1-0) traveled to the last frontier and defeated Alaska-Anchorage (0-1) 24-21 in a scrimmage at Alaska Stadium in Anchorage, Alaska.

Both teams frequently utilized their ground game amid heavy snowfall. Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen each scored a touchdown in the first half, but the Seawolves struck back to make it 14-14 at the break. Both teams scored again in the second half, but a last-second field goal by Sander Sahaydak sent Penn State home happy with a 24-21 victory.

How It Happened

Penn State won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. In blizzard-like conditions, onto the field trotted Alaska-Anchorage quarterback T’Variusness King. King’s first pass was incomplete, and Abdul Carter stormed in and sacked him for a six-yard loss to bring up 3rd-and-16. King handed it off to running back Fartrell Cluggins, whose five-yard gain was too late.

Drew Allar and the Nittany Lion offense took over at their own 25-yard line. Allar fired a short pass to Liam Clifford, who only gained two yards. Then, Nick Singleton’s two four-yard gains brought up a fresh set of downs for the Nittany Lions. However, the drive stalled as the Seawolves stuffed Singleton twice, while Allar’s pass on third-and-long was incomplete.

It didn’t take long for Penn State to get the ball back, though. King’s first pass was intercepted by AJ Harris, who was tackled at the 21-yard line. Kaytron Allen received the opening handoff and picked up 11 yards, putting Penn State at 1st-and-goal at the 10-yard line. Two plays later in “T” formation, Allen barrelled into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead with 3:01 left in the opening quarter.

However, the Seawolves soon struck back. Cluggins ripped consecutive 10-yard gains, and backup running back L’Carpetron Dookmarriot had an eight-yard carry to put them across midfield for the first time of the afternoon. King tossed a screen to Cluggins, who exploded for a 23-yard gain all the way to Penn State’s 24-yard line. Then, King completed a pass to Cosgrove Shumway at the five-yard line, who easily made his way into the end zone to tie it 7-7 to begin the second quarter.

Penn State continued to face adversity on the ensuing drive. Allar had two incompletions, including one that KeAndre Lambert-Smith couldn’t haul in. Singleton only gained two yards on third-and-long, and Riley Thompson punted the ball away.

Meanwhile, the Seawolves continued to flex their offensive muscles. King fired a 13-yard pass to Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace and a nine-yard completion to Blyrone Blashinton down the middle to keep the drive going. The ground game got involved after two incompletions as King and Cluggins ran for six yards each to refresh the downs. However, there was a brief holdup as Carter sacked King once again. As a result, Alaska-Anchorage ran the ball on the next seven plays, slowly chipping away at Tom Allen’s defense. Then, Cluggins exploded and into the end zone from the 20-yard line to give the Seawolves a 14-7 lead with five minutes left in the half.

Despite facing a deficit late in the half, Penn State continued to run the ball. Allar scrambled for a first down to open the drive, and Singleton continued to find holes and pick up yards. Allen caught two screen passes and seamlessly made his way down the field. Allar handed it off to Singleton at the 12-yard line, who waltzed his way around the defense and into the end zone to tie it 14-14 to end the first half.

Allar didn’t make it onto the field to begin the second half as he was benched due to frostbite amid the arctic weather. Beau Pribula entered in his place and immediately scrambled for 11 yards to begin the third quarter. True freshman London Montgomery saw some action with a brief gain. It was back to Singleton and Allen, though, as the duo combined for gains to get Penn State to midfield. However, the drive stalled as Pribula struggled to complete his passes and Allen was stuffed to force the punt.

Two scoreless drives later, though, Pribula continued to utilize his mobility. He found Tyler Warren for a 10-yard gain for the first time, and then scrambled for 20 yards to have Penn State across the 50 once again. Pribula fired a 15-yard dot to Trey Wallace and handed it off to Singleton for a five-yard gain. Then, two plays later, Pribula found Warren again for a 23-yard touchdown to take a 21-14 lead to end the third quarter.

The Seawolves went three-and-out on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Singleton had two three-yard gains on the next drive, but Pribula was sacked on third down to force a punt.

Alaska-Anchorage kicked into gear, though. King found Cluggins for two screen passes, the latter of which picked up a first down. Cluggins and Dookmarriot split the next six carries, winding the clock down as they marched down the field. They reached 1st-and-goal three plays later, and King completed a touchdown pass to Smoochie-Wallace to tie it at 24 apiece with five minutes left in the game.

Then, Pribula responded with two first-down completions. Singleton had two one-yard gains, and Allen ripped a nine-yard gain to pick up a first down with the clock ticking. Pribula scrambled for another five yards, and Montgomery ran for another five to refresh the downs. Three plays later, though, Penn State faced a crucial 3rd-and-nine. Pribula dropped back and found Warren again for 16 yards, but the clock continued to tick. Hurrying, Pribula spiked it but then was forced to run 10 yards out of bounds. He took a shot to Lambert-Smith in the end zone, but he was sacked for a six-yard loss. With a few seconds left in the game, on came Sander Sahaydak to attempt the game-winning field goal from the 24-yard line. Sahaydak kicked it, and the ball narrowly sailed through the goalposts to give Penn State a 24-21 win as the clock expired.

Takeaways

  • This was a gritty, classic Big Ten-esque football game. Penn State’s dominant ground game is a good sign of things to come this season.
  • Pribula was crucial in getting Penn State the win. He looked poised and prepared despite nasty weather conditions, and it’s a huge testament to the growth he’s had as a quarterback.
  • Sahaydak may have an early lead in the kicking battle. He lost the job last season to Alex Felkins, but a walk-off field goal in snowy conditions is a good sign he’s ready to bounce back.
  • Tyler Warren once again proved he’s capable of holding it down at tight end without Theo Johnson, who declared for the 2024 NFL Draft. He should be a solid contender to win the Mackey Award this upcoming season.

What’s Next?

Penn State’s annual Blue-White Game kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at Beaver Stadium.

Editor’s note: This story is part of Onward State’s April Fools’ Day series. It is satirical, meant for entertainment, and not to be taken literally. Any quotes were made up for the purpose of this post.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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