DeAndre Thompkins

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Trace McSorley injured again as Penn State leads Wisconsin at halftime

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Wisconsin is without starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook, and Penn State once again has a concern about the health of its starting quarterback. Trace McSorley was helped off the field with an apparent knee injury late in the first half of a home game against the Badgers with Penn State leading Wisconsin 16-7. Tommy Stevens has come on to fill in for McSorley as Penn State takes a 16-7 lead into the halftime break.

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor got right to work on the first offensive series of the game for the Badgers by ripping off a 71-yard run on a 3rd & 2 to put Wisconsin on the board with the first score of the game. But it was all Penn State from there as the Nittany Lions scored 16 straight points to take a 16-7 lead.

McSorley completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Thompkins on the ensuing drive after Taylor’s long touchdown run. After Wisconsin fumbled the ball when quarterback Jack Coan seemed to mishandle an exchange, the Nittany Lions took the lead on a 49-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar. Penn State added to their lead in the second quarter with a short Miles Sanders touchdown run with a leap over the pile to cross the goal line, but a missed extra point attempt kept the game a single-digit deficit.

At one point midway through the second quarter, Penn State had 12 first downs to just two for the Badgers. Struggles on third down had slowed Wisconsin’s offense, although that should be credit to the Penn State defense with pressure coming up front from Shareef Miller.

Wisconsin needs to figure something out for the second half as they need a win to remain close enough to Northwestern in the Big Ten West standings to have a shot at winning the division. Being unable to come back in this game would make it incredibly tough for Wisconsin to play in the Big Ten championship game for a third consecutive year. Penn State will be unable to win the Big Ten East but is in position to end the year with 10 wins in a bowl game if they can hold on to this one. Second halves of games at home have not been too kind to Penn State, so this one is still up for grabs.

Michigan flexing on Penn State, pitching shutout in Big House

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When on the road against a top five team, you simply cannot make as many mistakes as Penn State did in the first half against Michigan. As a result, Penn State finds themselves trailing the Wolverines 14-0 in Ann Arbor, and it doesn’t really feel that close of a game. Failures on third downs, penalties, questionable coaching decisions and an inability to take advantage of opportunities have burned Penn State after one half, while Michigan continues to stick to their identity of power running and defense to hold the upper hand.

Penn State came out swinging on the first play of the game with Trace McSorley completing a 25-yard pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth to get the Nittany Lions to midfield, but back-to-back sacks by Chase Winovich and Josh Uche forced Penn State to punt the ball from their own 36-yard line. Penn State also had to burn a timeout on the punt too.

Karan Higdon then went to work on the ground, carrying the ball on each of Michigan’s first three plays with gains of one, 10, and 50 to get into the red zone. Quarterback Shea Patterson would be the player to get the Wolverines on the board a few plays later with a keeper off to the left side of the line.

Penn State appeared to create a great opportunity early in the second quarter with a blocked field goal attempt by former Penn State commitment Quinn Nordin. A return for a touchdown was taken off the board due to nullifying chop block penalties by Michigan and Penn State, but the Nittany Lions took over at the 35-yard line and quickly advanced to midfield following a pass interference penalty on the Wolverines. But one play later, McSorley and running back Miles Sanders had confusion on a handoff and Winovich pounced on a fumbled ball out of McSorley’s hands.

Michigan stuck with their running game to do most of the damage from there and Patterson ended a 10-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to an open Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 14-0 lead.

Penn State didn’t pick up a third down conversion until the final two and a half minutes of the second quarter. At that point, Michigan held Penn State to -2 rushing yards while the Wolverines had 122 yards on the ground in the first half. Later in the half, Penn State appeared to be threatening to at least get some point son the scoreboard before halftime, but a missed wide open pass by McSorley to his intended receiver (DeAndre Thompkins) for an easy touchdown was followed by a sack on third down by Jordan Glasgow to move the ball well out of field goal position.

Michigan appears to be in great shape at the half, but Penn State is not buried just yet. If the Wolverines continue to pound away though, they could walk away with a big win against Penn State.

No. 13 Penn State rebounds to trounce Pitt with help of special teams gaffes

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Pittsburgh hung tough with Penn State through one half, but a number of special teams gaffes allowed the 13th-ranked Nittany Lions to improve upon last week’s close call versus Appalachian State with a 51-6 blowout of its Keystone State rivals.

After Penn State (2-0) opened the scoring on a 32-yard K.J. Hamler run, Pittsburgh matched that touchdown with a 13-yard plunge by Qadree Ollison rush, but punter Kirk Christodoulou could not corral the extra point snap and the Panthers could not get a kick off, settling for a 7-6 deficit.

With the score still 7-6, Alex Kessman pulled a 35-yard field goal and came away complaining about the hold as a driving rain blanketed the Heinz Field grass. Pitt’s defense forced a Miles Sanders fumble on the next possession, giving the Panthers the ball back at the Penn State 31 with 7:15 to play in the second quarter. Pitt (1-1) advanced to the Penn State 4, and Pat Narduzzi elected to eschew a field goal try and go for a 4th-and-goal. Penn State stuffed the ensuing run, getting to Ollison three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Later, Pitt attempted the ball away inside the first half’s final minute and force a 7-6 halftime score, but Christodoulou dropped the punt snap and Penn State recovered at the Pitt 35. After a 21-yard Sanders run, Trace McSorley hit Hamler for a 14-yard score, giving the Nittany Lions a 14-6 halftime lead.

Penn State broke the game open with an 8-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard McSorley run.

Pitt was called for holding in the end zone on the ensuing possession, pushing the Penn State lead to 23-6, and DeAndre Thompkins provided the exclamation point by returning a punt 39 yards for a touchdown with 28 ticks to go in the third quarter. McSorley added one more touchdown pass, an 11-yard toss to Mac Hippenhammer, with 11:40 to play. Mark Allen piled on a 4-yard plunge with 6:17 remaining, and backup quarterback Sean Clifford capped the scoring with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Polk with 4:21 to play.

McSorley completed 14-of-30 passes for 145 yards with two touchdowns, while Sanders led the Nittany Lions with 16 carries for 118 yards.

Ollison led all runners with 119 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, but he did most of his damage before halftime. Pitt’s passing offense was non-existent, as Kenny Pickett mustered eight completions in 16 tries for just 51 yards with an interception.

The win gives Penn State two straight victories over Pitt, matching the 2-game streak the Panthers carried into 2017. Penn State had won seven straight before that, and owns a 52-43-4 advantage in a series that dates back to 1893.

Over five hours later, Penn State and Michigan State finally reach halftime

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Over five hours later, we have reached halftime in East Lansing between Penn State and Michigan State, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans tied 14-14 at the second break of the game. A nearly three-and-a-half hour weather delay in the middle of the second quarter posed an extra challenge to both teams.

With 7:58 to play in the second quarter, the game had to be sent into a weather delay as lightning strikes moving through the area caused a threat to the safety of the teams and fans in Spartan Stadium. The weather delay was announced as officials were reviewing an incomplete pass from Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke to Trishton Jackson on the sideline. The incomplete pass was upheld. It would be a while until they played third down.

Penn State was looking to get off to a nice quick start to move on from last week’s loss at Ohio State, but an interception thrown by Trace McSorley after missing a couple of throws earlier on the drive brought the game’s opening drive to an end. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Michigan State could not take advantage of the possession despite a promising looking drive that included a 3rd and 11 and 3rd and 19 pass completions to keep the ball moving. But on 4th and 2, Mark Dantonio opted to punt from the Penn State 43-yard line.

Penn State got the offense in gear on their second possession with McSorley dialing in and Saquon Barkley getting a chance to throw out of a direct snap for a 20-yard gain to tight end Mike Gesicki. McSorley then completed back-to-back passes to DeAndre Thompkins and then DaeSean Hamilton for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead. Michigan State answered after getting the ball near midfield on the ensuing kickoff, thanks in part to a good return and a late hit penalty on Penn State. Four plays later, Lewerke tied it up with a pass to Darrell Stewart Jr. Not to be outdone, Penn State had their own answer with Mcsorley completing a fourth-down pass to Saeed Blacknall, who then took advantage of horrendous tackling efforts by multiple Michigan State players on his way to the endzone for a go-ahead score.

Michigan State tied the game at 14-14 with a Lewerke touchdown pass to Felton Davis III from 33 yards.