Jahan Dotson

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Penn State leading Michigan, 21-7, in front of whiteout crowd

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No. 7 Penn State jumped out to a 21-0 lead on No. 16 Michigan in front of the whiteout crowd in Happy Valley Saturday night. The Nittany Lions lead the Wolverines 21-7 at the half thanks to two touchdown passes by Sean Clifford and one more touchdown run by the Penn State quarterback.

Michigan was forced to burn a timeout before the first snap of the game. As the play clock was winding down with Shea Patterson and the Wolverines at the end of the stadium with the student section, a miscommunication led to Jim Harbaugh calling for a timeout rather than risk an early mistake with the football. Later on the opening drive, Michigan opted to punt from the Penn State 47-yard line rather than try to convert a 4th-and-1. The Michigan punt trickled into the end zone for a touchback.

Penn State was the first to put a dent on the scoreboard when Clifford dropped a pass right into the hands of tight end Pat Freiermuth midway through the first quarter. Clifford’s 17-yard touchdown pass came on the first play after dropping a dime for Jahan Dotson to get the Nittany Lions inside the red zone for the first time on the night. Clifford later scored a touchdown on the ground by reaching across the goal line on the first play of the second quarter.

After exchanging punts on the next couple of possessions, the Penn State defense picked up the first turnover of the game when Tariq Castro-fields somehow managed to intercept a short screen pass from Shea Patterson in traffic at midfield. Penn State capitalized on the possession with another well-placed pass from Clifford to KJ Hamler for a touchdown.

Michigan did start getting some composure on offense late in the second quarter. After going down 21-0, the Wolverines strung together a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Zach Charbonnet running 12 yards for Michigan’s first score of the night.

The Wolverines still have plenty of work to do, and they’ll need the defense to keep the game within reach. This Michigan offense may not be suited to score a ton of points, but 14 points is still a manageable deficit even in the whiteout conditions in Beaver Stadium.

Trace McSorley injured as Penn State tied with Iowa at halftime

Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
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Penn State got off to a messy start to the game and lost starting quarterback Trace McSorley to an apparent leg injury early in the second quarter for a brief period of time. All things considered, being tied Iowa at home 17-17 could have been worse. The Hawkeyes have scored two safeties on special teams and had a punter throw a touchdown pass to a defensive lineman as the Hawkeyes are trying to scratch out a key road win.

Penn State punter Blake Gillkin failed to get a hold of the football on the fourth play of the game and had his scrambling punt attempt blocked. The ball sailed back toward the end zone behind Gillikin and wiggled out of bounds for a quick 2-0 Iowa lead, and the Hawkeyes added a field goal on their first offensive possession minutes later.

With Penn State’s offense having trouble getting anything going, Iowa would keep the scoring going in an unorthodox fashion. On fourth down, Iowa tried their luck with a trick play to keep Penn State guessing and it paid off with punter and holder Colten Rasetetter completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to defensive tackle Sam Brincks.

Down 12-0, Penn State answered the call with a solid offensive drive. Trace Mcsorley completed a fourth-down pass to Jahan Dotson for a gain of 18 when they needed three form the Iowa 33-yard line, and one play later McSorley capped the 10-play, 85-yard drive with a touchdown pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth in the back of the end zone to get the Nittany Lions on the board before the close of the first quarter.

McSorley was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter at the end of a run. Tommy Stevens took over the offense at quarterback an led the Nittany Lions to a game-tying touchdown on a short one-play three-yard possession following a big interception return by John Reid. Mcsorley headed to the locker room before the end of the half, even though Penn State got the ball back on offense for one last drive. We’ll see what his status is for the second half.

Get ready for a messy second half. It wouldn’t be Penn State vs. Iowa if it wasn’t.