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Penn State Football: No. 10 Nittany Lions Outlast No. 17 Iowa

by on October 12, 2019 11:12 PM

No. 10 Penn State football (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) escaped No. 17 Iowa (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) 17-12 Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.

Penn State’s offense hardly had a dominant performance, but timely scores and a big time defensive effort combined to give the Nittany Lions their sixth win of the season. Noah Cain led the offense with 102 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Robert Windsor was a constant factor for Brent Pry’s defense.

How It Happened

Iowa received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out on its first possession. The Hawkeyes shanked their punt and Penn State got the ball on Iowa’s 41-yard line, but the Nittany Lions failed to pick up a first down as well.

Nate Stanley and the rest of Iowa’s offense followed up another Penn State three-and-out with a solid 38-yard drive that got them all the way down to Penn State’s 30-yard line. Keith Duncan nailed a 47-yard field goal and gave the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter.

Sean Clifford and Co. finally got some momentum going in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions went on a 15-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off by an acrobatic KJ Hamler touchdown. The wide receiver took a 22-yard reception to the house in which he leapt over several Iowa defenders on his way to the end zone. Penn State took a 7-3 lead with 8:36 remaining in the first half.


Penn State’s defense bent but didn’t break just before halftime. Stanley led Iowa down to the Nittany Lions’ own seven-yard line, but couldn’t punch it in for a score. Duncan nailed the 24-yard field goal and Penn State took a 7-6 lead into the locker room.

Neither offense could get much of anything going in the third quarter. After about 10 minutes of a field-position battle, Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher forced a fumble that was recovered by Jan Johnson. The Nittany Lions took over inside Iowa’s 20-yard line and pickedup big-time receptions from Hamler and Pat Freiermuth.

Freiermuth had a 16-yard reception that was originally called a touchdown on the field, but after a lengthy review, he was inexplicably called down at the 1-yard line.


Several penalties and miscues knocked the Nittany Lions all the way back to the 21-yard line and they were forced to settle for a field goal. Jake Pinegar hit his 33-yard attempt to give Penn State a 10-6 lead with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter.

Penn State’s Wild Dogs stuffed Iowa’s run game on its first possession of the fourth quarter and gave the ball back to the offense. Despite a solid drive in which Noah Cain had several productive carries, Penn State was forced to punt and Blake Gillikin pinned Iowa on its 4-yard line.

The Nittany Lions got the ball back in Iowa territory when Stanley airmailed a pass directly into the hands of Jaquan Brisker. Clifford and Cain combined for several huge carries, and the running back capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown rush. Penn State took a 17-6 lead with 5:17 left in the game.

Nate Stanley orchestrated a solid drive for the Hawkeyes, including a fourth-and-5 conversion, which was capped off by an unbelievable 33-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Smith who was tightly covered by John Reid. A failed two-point conversion left Iowa trailing 17-12 with 2:46 remaining in the game.

The Nittany Lions got the ball back and proceeded to feed Cain on the ground. The freshman picked up a clutch first down and the Nittany Lions were able to run out the clock, escaping Iowa City with a 17-12 win.


  • Noah Cain is a beast. The freshman carried Penn State down the field on several of its final drives, as he finished with 102 yards on 20 carries.
  • Robert Windsor and PJ Mustipher stood out for the Wild Dogs all night. Windsor had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, while Mustipher had six total tackles of his own. The pair were constantly disrupting Iowa’s run game, hurrying Nate Stanley, and stuffing the Hawkeyes at the line of scrimmage.
  • While he didn’t have a great day through the air, Sean Clifford’s gritty rushing ability was key for Penn State. The redshirt sophomore finished second on the team with 52 yards on the ground, including several key first downs using his feet.

What’s Next?

Penn State will host No. 16 Michigan at 7:30 Saturday night at Beaver Stadium for the White Out game.

Will Pegler is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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