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Michigan State 21, Penn State 17: The Tough Losses Continue

It was another bitter pill to swallow for Penn State fans.

Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

There isn’t much that can be said that will make Penn State fans feel better. There were a number of plays that could have went in favor of the Lions that would have made a difference in the outcome of the game. We can spend the next few days analyzing each first down that wasn’t made, the missed field goal, the play that Trace McSorley was pushed out of bounds to keep the clock running late in the fourth quarter. The dropped interception. They all happened. This is real.

None of the speculation will change the outcome of the game. It was a tough loss, one that will sting until the next kickoff a week from today. Take some time to let the pain sink in and then wear off. Then get ready to cheer on the team for the remainder of the season.

Game Recap

Michigan State came out ready to play, gaining two first downs and crossing midfield on the opening possession before punting the ball away. KJ Hamler caught a pass for 23 yards on 3rd and 5 on the first Penn State drive to get the ball into Spartan territory. Three plays later Trace McSorley fumbled on the Michigan State 31 yard line to end a promising drive.

On the second MSU possession Ellis Brooks entered at middle linebacker replacing Jan Johnson and Jonathan Sutherland came in at safety for Garrett Taylor. Shareef Miller had a tackle for a three yard loss to set up third and long and the Spartans were forced to punt the ball away after an incomplete pass.

Penn State’s next drive started at the six yard line. After gaining a first down, Miles Sanders carried the ball 78 yards all the way to the MSU five yard line. KJ Hamler capped the drive with a 5 yard touchdown reception.

Donovan Johnson, Micah Parsons, Shaka Toney and Shane Simmons entered the game for the Lions on the next defensive possession. Unlike the Ohio State game, Brent Pry used a larger rotation of players. After giving up a 12 yard pass and first down to open the drive, the defense held and forced a punt three plays later.

The Lions went three and out and Blake Gillikin punted the ball 49 yards, well into Spartan territory. An illegal block in the back during the return gave MSU the ball at their own 19. Jarvis Miller and PJ Mustipher entered the game for the defense, continuing the flow of substitutions. On fourth down, Michigan State gained 26 yards on a fake punt run up the left sideline. A halfback pass by Connor Heyward gained 36 yards two plays later to the one yard line of Penn State as the first quarter came to an end.

CJ Thorpe entered at nose tackle in the goal line defense, making the tackle on first down. After a stop on third down, Thorpe was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Spartans a fresh set of downs. On the next play La’Darius Jefferson ran the ball in to tie the game 7-7.

The Lions were unable to answer, punting the ball away after three plays. The defense returned the favor, getting the ball back three plays later. DeAndre Thompkins returned the punt 15 yards to near midfield to start the drive with great field possession. A false start on first down by Juwan Johnson put the Lions behind the sticks to start the drive, which ended with a punt.

As the shadows from the setting sun began to cross the field inside Beaver Stadium, the defense held, forcing a three and out. With 6:51 left before the half, Trace McSorley took the field to lead the offense. After McSorley ran for a first down on 3rd and 4, Miles Sanders took the ball 48 yards into the end zone for a 14-7 Penn State lead.

After a stop on third down, the defense was called for a holding penalty, which gave the Spartans a first down. The mistake allowed Michigan State to cross midfield following two more first downs, then a punt to the 2 yard line with 1:36 left on the clock put the Lions’ back against the wall. The offense gained just 2 yards, not giving Blake Gillikin much room to punt. The result was a Spartan drive that began at the PSU 39 with 40 seconds left before the half.

A sack on second down for a loss of 7 yards by Shareef Miller pushed the Spartans back and resulted in a punt two plays later, taking it to the half.

Penn State got the ball after the half and was forced to punt. MSU drove into the Lions’ territory and faced a 3rd and 5 from the PSU 36. On a deflected pass by John Reid, Garrett Taylor took it and ran the interception back to the MSU 35. Trace McSorley slipped on an attempted fourth down conversion to give the ball back four plays later.

After another stop on 3rd and short, Penn State was called for defensive holding. The call gave the Spartans a first down at the 45 yard line of the Lions. Two plays later Felton Davis caught a 20 yard touchdown to tie the game.

Trace McSorley started the next possession with a ten yard scramble but the drive stalled out there and Blake Gillikin came on to punt the ball 43 yards to the MSU 15. The Lions force a punt and got the ball back at their own 39.

The Lions drove to the MSU 19 where Jake Pinegar missed a 37 yard field goal, hitting the upright. The Penn State defense responded with a three and out aided by the vocal support inside of Beaver Stadium.

The Lions took the ball from their own 43 and drove well into Spartan territory. On a critical 3rd and 6 from the 27, McSorley hit Mac Hippenhammer at the 6 for a first down. After the drive stalled, Jake Pinegar hit from 20 yards for a 17-14 lead with 9:21 left in the game.

Michigan State converted on 3rd and 11 on the next drive to keep the ball away from Penn State. They drove the ball down within field goal range but chose to try a fake, which Garrett Taylor knocked to the ground.

The next three possessions ended with punts and MSU had the ball with 1:19 to play. Amani Oruwariye had a chance to end the game when he stepped in front of a second down pass, but the ball hit him in the stomach and came out. The drive continued. Six plays later, Oruwariye got turned around while covering Felton Davis, who caught the game-winning 25 yard pass.