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Michigan 21 Penn State 17: Offensive Line Woes Continue As Late Touchdown Dooms Comeback

Quite a fight in the fourth quarter, but it all adds up as another loss to a beatable top-10 program.

Heather Weikel, Black Shoe Diaries

Penn State and Michigan squared off on a dreary Saturday afternoon, in another chance for a top 10 victory for the good guys.

The Nittany Lions got the ball first and backed their way into a third and 17, when Sean Clifford avoided a sack and hit a crossing Parker Washington, who scooted upfield for 24 yards to extend the drive. Later in the drive, Clifford scrambled for another solid gain, and then took the quarterback draw for another first down. Unfortunately, the team could go no further than the Wolverine 39, and punted the ball to the visitors...

OR THEY WOULD HAVE IF JORDAN STOUT DIDN’T THROW A PERFECT PASS TO CURTIS JACOBS DOWN THE LEFT SIDELINE. The drive unfortunately stalled again, but Stout hit a 42-yard field goal to give Penn State the early 3-0 lead.

Michigan began their first drive much the way games usually begin in Happy Valley for visiting teams: with a false start. Their first drive resulted in one yard past the original line of scrimmage, punctuated by a third down incompletion off of a Michigan player’s helmet.

Penn State’s next drive was again extended by a Clifford scramble on third down. Three straight runs by Keyvone Lee resulted in another first down. A few plays later, Clifford found Theo Johnson for 19 yards near the middle of the field. The redshirt junior used his legs to pick up 18 yards and yet another first down to the Michigan 10. He found Johnson for seven on third and goal from the nine, but on fourth and goal, the fake field goal attempt resulted in a loss of 27 yards to the 29. Michigan’s next drive was a three-and-out, with Daequan Hardy making a nice play for a pass breakup on third down.

Penn State started their next drive from the two, and picked up two first downs on throws to Jahan Dotson, and a third on a nice run by John Lovett along the right sideline as the first quarter came to a close. Unfortunately, Clifford was sacked on third down from the 38, and Penn State punted it away to the Michigan 10.

After the Wolverines picked up a first down on a nice pass play, Arnold Ebiketie brought down quarterback Cade McNamara for his 7th sack of the season. However, Hassan Haskins got the first down on the ensuing play with a nice screen play. The Wolverines continued their drive thanks to a Haskins run on fourth and two from around midfield, as well as a catch-and-run by Andrel Anthony, and more strong running by Haskins. McNamara then found Roman Wilson for a 21-yard touchdown, and Michigan took the lead 7-3 with 5:49 left in the half.

On Penn State’s next drive, Clifford lofted a beautiful ball to Lovett, but the Baylor transfer couldn’t haul it in near the sideline, and Penn State was forced to punt. Michigan moved the ball into Penn State territory, but Ellis Brooks and D’von Ellies combined to stop Haskins for no gain on fourth and two from the 38. On the next drive, Clifford hit a wide-open Parker Washington on second and 17 for 44 yards down the middle, and Penn State had a first down at the Michigan 25. On third down, Clifford dove to recover his own fumble, making it 4th and 19 from the 34. Stout nailed the 52-yard field goal to make it 7-6 Michigan at the half.

The Wolverines started the second half by marching 75 yards in nine plays, and capped it off with another Wilson touchdown catch to make it 14-6 with 11:50 left in the third. The Nittany Lions got a nice 15-yard run from Keyvone Lee to start their next drive, and he picked up another first down three plays later to move the ball to midfield. However, another sack and consecutive incompletions stalled the drive, resulting in another punt.

After Michigan went three-and-out on their next series, the Nittany Lions took their turn at the 40. Lee started the drive by breaking off a 10-yard run off of the left side, and then Washington leapt for a 20-yard snag to the Michigan 30. The drive stalled, and Stout’s field goal clanged off of the right post.

After another Michigan punt, Clifford found Dotson for 17 yards on another third and long, and Lee’s strong running moved the ball inside the Michigan 40. A sack of Clifford and a holding call on Caedan Wallace drove Penn State back into their own territory, and they were forced to punt again as the fourth quarter began.

Michigan punted for the third straight time, this time giving Penn State the ball at their 47. Lee brought it into Wolverine territory, and carried it three more times in a row to the Michigan 39. Clifford then converted the first down with a five yard pass to Dotson over the middle on fourth and four, and another fourth down conversion on a slant to Dotson for 15 yards, setting up first and goal from the seven. On fourth and goal from the two (their third fourth down conversion on the drive alone!!), Clifford hit Tyler Warren with a jump ball in the end zone to make it 14-12, and Dotson made the diving grab in the end zone for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14 with 7:35 left.

On Michigan’s next drive, the man BSD writers call “AK-47” went off, recording a pass breakup on second down, and bull-rushing to hammer McNamara on third down, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Derrick Tangelo at the Michigan 16. Unfortunately, the red zone offense continued to struggle, and they settled for a 31-yard field goal by Stout to give the Nittany Lions a 17-14 lead with 5:55 left.

Haskins continued to gouge the defense on Michigan’s next drive going for 17 yards on first down, and carrying for eight on the next two plays, and eventually into Penn State territory. On second and nine from the Penn State 47, McNamara hit Eric All on a crossing pattern and All turned it upfield down the right sideline for a score to make it 21-17 Michigan with 3:29 left. Clifford tried to rally the offense down the field, but could only manage eight yards on four plays and the Wolverines took over, running the clock out to seal the win.

Michigan was led by Hassan Haskins’ workman-like 31 carries for 156 yards, while Cade McNamara threw three touchdowns, two to Roman Wilson and the 47-yard backbreaker to Eric All.

Sean Clifford finished 23 of 43 for 205 yards and a touchdown, and was sacked seven times. He also rushed for 16 yards. Keyvone Lee was certainly a bright spot on offense, carrying 20 times for 88 yards. Jahan Dotson had seven catches for 61 yards, leaving him seven yards shy of 1,000 for the season. Defensively, Arnold Ebiketie had two sacks, while Ellis Brooks led the squad with 15 tackles.