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Penn State 30, Iowa 24: What Twitter Had To Say

Penn State didn’t just win a football game on Saturday afternoon, they won a football game by protecting a 4th quarter lead against a ranked team!

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Following a thrilling 30-24 victory over No. 18 Iowa on Saturday afternoon, the 17th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions are now 6-2 this season. In a game that was peak Iowa, the Nittany Lions did not allow a touchdown on defense and still had to hold their breath until the final horn sounded.

As always during Nittany Lion games, the fine folks in the Twittersphere were buzzing during the game. However, for the first time in a few weeks, there was more positive on Twitter than negative. Yay, beating ranked teams!

Despite the victory, things did not start well for the Nittany Lions. The first 10 minutes of the game could not have gone much worse for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State got the ball to start the game, went three-and-out, and Blake Gillikin then dropped a Kyle Vasey snap on a punt attempt. This led to Gillikin’s punt being blocked and rolling out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

This was just the beginning of the early game woes for the Nittany Lions. Following another three-and-out, with this one featuring a penalty and a sack, a poor punt by Gillikin gave Iowa the ball with great field position.

To Gillikin’s credit, when Penn State needed him to come up big in the second half he did. Gillikin had just two second half punts, the first of which traveled 54-yards and the second nearly matched it sailing 49-yards.

To quote the late, great Billy Mays ‘but wait, there’s more!’ when it comes to Penn State special teams woes. On 4th and goal from the 10-yard line, Iowa lined up in some funky formation with punter Colten Rastetter at quarterback. Rastetter then tossed a touchdown pass to back up defensive lineman Sam Brincks. After this disaster Penn State fans were furious with special teams coordinator Phil Galiano, and rightfully so.

There would be another poor snap by Vasey that led to a second Iowa safety, and the Hawkeyes had a long kick off return that led to a field goal in the second half. Had Penn State’s special teams been better on Saturday, the Nittany Lions may have won this game by 20+ points.

After a slow start, the Nittany Lions controlled much of the final 50 minutes of game play. It all started when their offense put together a 10-play, 85-yard drive that cut Iowa’s lead to 12-7. The main catalysts on this drive? True freshmen Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth. Dotson had two receptions on the drive, both of which went for first downs, including a 4th down conversion. Meanwhile, Freiermuth capped the drive off with an 18-yard touchdown reception.

Freiermuth has already emerged as a huge part of the Nittany Lion passing attack, and in the past two weeks Dotson has started to trend in the same direction.

Trace McSorley had to battle on Saturday. After missing time in the second quarter with a right leg injury, McSorley played the second half on just one good leg. Despite this, he ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the second half to give Penn State their first lead of the game.

The legend of McSorley, the greatest quarterback in program history, continues to grow.

While McSorley was out of the game, Tommy Stevens was handed the reigns. ‘Touchdown Tommy’ went 2/4 for 27 yards through the air and rushed for a touchdown. He also led a drive late in the second quarter that got the team in field goal range for a last second field goal that tied the game at 17 heading into the locker room.

Speaking of that touchdown run by Stevens, it was set up by the first interception of the season by John Reid. With Penn State trailing 12-7, Reid intercepted a Nate Stanley pass and returned it to the Iowa 4-yard line.

After a rough start to his season, Reid is looking more and more like the player he was in 2016 each week.

Reid was not the only Penn State defensive back to get an interception on Saturday. The biggest play of the game came courtesy of redshirt senior safety Nick Scott. With 3:18 left in the game, Penn State leading 30-24, and Iowa looking at 1st and goal inside the 5-yard line, Scott came through by intercepting Stanley to thwart the Hawkeye threat.

While Scott made the biggest play of the day for the defense, he was not the lone defender to make big plays for Penn State on Saturday. For a fourth consecutive week the Nittany Lion defense played great, as the lone long drive of the day for the Hawkeyes ended in Scott’s interception.

The best player of this defensive effort? Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos. YGM led the team in tackles for a second consecutive week, while also recording 4 tackles for a loss and a pair of sacks.

While he is only a true sophomore, YGM is starting to look like a player that gets drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft one day.

Penn State’s defensive line as a whole played well on Saturday. PJ Mustipher, Robert Windsor, and Sahreef Miller were all a handful for Iowa’s offensive line, along with YGM. This included Miller blowing up Iowa’s attempted hail mary attempt at the buzzer to close out the game.

While Penn State’s special teams was largely a mess on Saturday, true freshman kicker Jake Pinegar was a bright spot. Pinegar entered the day just 6/10 on field goal attempts this season with a long of 39. Well, on top of drilling all three PATs Pinegar was 3/3 on field goals in the victory with all three coming from 40+ yards. This including nailing a 45-yard field goal right before halftime to tie the game.

Saturday’s victory over Iowa may prove to be the game that Penn State fans point at as the day #NoMistakeJake was born.

Penn State is now 6-2 after going 1-0 this week. It’s now Michigan week.