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Penn State Hangs On to Beat Pitt

by on September 14, 2019 3:58 PM

No. 13 Penn State football squeezed by the Pitt Panthers, 17-10, at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon.

After a 40-minute delay because of lightning in the area, the two squads finally took the field for their 100th all-time meeting, and last, at least for the foreseeable future. Penn State (3-0) once again had a slow start in this one and struggled to stay consistent on offense throughout the day. The Nittany Lions escaped thanks mainly to a stingy second-half defensive effort.

How It Happened

Pitt (1-2) received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out on its first drive, picking up just three yards of offense. Sean Clifford and Co. looked strong to open up their first possession, but a sack and a near turnover pushed the Nittany Lions back to a drive-killing 3rd and 23.

Penn State got the ball back on its own 2-yard line after a strong Panthers punt, but Journey Brown led the offense out of brutal field position with an 85-yard scamper that put them in the red zone. Devyn Ford finished off Brown’s work with a 1-yard touchdown run just a few plays later. The Nittany Lions took a 7-0 lead with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter.

 

Pat Narduzzi’s squad bounced back with a 25-yard field goal that narrowed Penn State’s lead to 7-3 with 6:34 remaining in the half.

Pitt looked strong again on its next possession. Pickett continued to find open receivers on another long drive, and the Panthers capped it off with a 3-yard touchdown rush from Vincent Davis. The Panthers took a 10-7 lead with 2:08 remaining in the first half.

The Nittany Lions got into field goal range — for Jordan Stout, at least — on their next drive. Stout nailed a 57-yard kick to tie the game up 10-10 heading to the locker room. The kick set a new school record for longest field goal, eclipsing Chris Bahr's mark of 55 yards set in 1975.

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Penn State’s offense got rolling again about halfway through the third quarter. Thanks in no small part to Clifford’s agility in the pocket and several strong carries from freshman Noah Cain, the Nittany Lions produced a 13-play, 88-yard drive. Cain capped it off with a 13-yard rushing touchdown, and Penn State took a 17-10 lead with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.

 

Sacks from Jan Johnson and Cam Brown gave the ball right back to Penn State’s offense, but the Nittany Lions failed to get much of anything going and held a 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. Penn State’s defense was scary throughout the third quarter, allowing just nine total yards of offense to Pitt.

After a massive fourth down conversion on a 36-yard reception, the Panthers got down to the 1-yard line on a 29-yard pass from Pickett to Taysir Mack. The Penn State defense held strong, forcing an incompletion and throwing Pickett for a 1-yard loss. Cam Brown's pressure on third down forced another incompletion. Narduzzi opted for a 19-yard field goal try by Alex Kessman, whose attempt hit off the left upright. The Nittany Lions held a 17-10 lead with 4:54 remaining in the game.

Penn State failed to score on its next drive and returned the ball to Pitt with 1:56 left in the game. The Panthers converted on 4th and 12 thanks to another amazing catch by Mack along the sideline and had the ball on Penn States 37-yard line.

Narduzzis squad had one last gasp. After a first-down catch on Penn States 27-yard line, the stadium game clock didn't stop and Penn State's sideline started on the field, thinking the game had ended. After the clock was reset to nine seconds, followed by an incompletion, Pickett lobbed one final throw in to the end zone on a last-ditch effort but the pass came up incomplete, deflected away by Cam Brown. The Nittany Lions escaped with a 17-10 win.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s linebackers played a huge role in today’s defensive effort. Jan Johnson and Cam Brown each had sacks, while Micah Parsons led the team with nine total tackles and two for loss. Although the Panthers had a solid day through the air, they could only muster up 24 rushing yards — much of that due to the fact that the linebackers were constantly coming up to make big tackles.
  • Journey Brown had a big day in his first career start at running back for the Nittany Lions. The redshirt sophomore finished with a team-leading 109 rushing yards on the day, including an 85-yard scamper that set up Penn State’s first score.

What’s Next?

Penn State will have its first bye week of the season next weekend. After that, the Nittany Lions will travel to College Park to take on Maryland at 8 p.m. Friday, September 27. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

 



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