Well, they did it!
It wasn’t pretty, but they did it!
Penn State finally closed out the game when leading late.
Saturday’s game against Iowa was far from a work of art, but football is a results business.
The Nittany Lions fell behind early after a bad opening drive and dropped snap by Blake Gillikin led to a blocked punt and a safety.
The Hawkeyes scored a field goal on the ensuing drive to make it 5-0 (funfer!) and then added to that lead on a fake field goal to make it 12-0.
All was lost.
But maybe not!
Penn State responded with a strong drive for a touchdown that was capped by an 18-yard pass from Trace McSorley to a wide open Pat Freiermuth.
The Hawkeyes then extended their lead to 14-7 when a snap went over Gillikin’s head and through the end zone for a safety.
(We’ll have more on a certain special teams coach later this week.)
Things looked even worse for the Nittany Lions when Trace McSorley went down holding his knee following a sack and was forced to leave the game.
Then Penn State decided to wake up.
John Reid picked off an errant pass from Nate Stanley and returned it to the Iowa 3-yard line before Tommy Stevens, in for McSorley, rumbled in to tie the game.
After a pair of field goals and some preposterous decision making from Kirk Ferentz, the teams went into the break deadlocked at 17-17.
Penn State came out and made a statement immediately after the half, forcing a Hawkeyes three-and-out.
On the following possession McSorley, back in the game, took off down the field for a 51-yard touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 24-17 lead, their first of the game.
Jake Pinegar then connected on a 49-yard field goal, his second of three from 40-plus, to make the score 27-17.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Penn State appeared to be primed to salt the game away with the ball inside the Iowa red zone.
Then catastrophe struck.
McSorley and Miles Sanders mishandled a hand off and the Hawkeyes took the ball back down 10 points.
Though it didn’t score on that drive, Iowa wasn’t dead yet.
After punting and pinning Penn State inside the 10, catastrophe struck again.
Trace McSorley dropped back to pass and failed to see Iowa safety Geno Stone. Stone jumped the pass, picked it off and returned it to the house to cut the lead to 27-24.
The Nittany Lions actually responded well this time.
KJ Hamler took the following kick return inside the Iowa 40, and while the offense sputtered, Pinegar came up clutch again with a 44-yard field goal to make it 30-24.
Things looked bleak with Iowa driving down inside the Penn State 10 and time running down, but then it was the Hawkeyes turn to fu-mess it up.
Stanley and star tight end Noah Fant had a miscommunication and Nick Scott, ever the opportunist, intercepted Stanley’s pass at the Nittany Lions 3-yard line.
Penn State got one first down on the following drive and burned a couple minutes as well as all three of the Hawkeyes timeouts, but eventually had to punt.
Blake Gilkin boomed to put Iowa inside it’s own 30, and while the Hawkeyes drove all the way inside the Penn State half, they were unable to find the winning score.
On the final play of the ball game, Shareef Miller beat his man and got to Stanley who pitched the ball back to a big ol’ lineman who was eventually chased down and tackled at the Penn State 29.
We did it, y’all.
I need a drink.