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Turning Point: Northwestern’s Last-Gasp Trickeration Gets Snuffed Out

A failed fake punt attempt ended up being the final nail in Northwestern’s coffin.

Penn State v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Right after kicking a field goal midway through the third quarter to put themselves up 20-10, and going up by more than one score for the first time all day, Penn State proceeded to force a three-and-out on Northwestern’s ensuing possession. Facing 4th & 4 at his own 31-yard line, and with his team’s momentum from going up 10-3 earlier in the game having completely vanished, and with their upset hopes quickly slipping out of reach, Northwestern interim head coach David Braun faced a dilemma: Do you punt the ball back to PSU and risk the prospect of the Lions driving for a game-sealing touchdown, or do you try a fake punt to try and inject some life into your team, but risk PSU having tremendous starting field position if the fake punt fails?

As we all know, Braun chose the latter, because why not? His team was a four-touchdown underdog losing ground and Northwestern was playing with house money. Unfortunately for him, tight end Charlie Mangieri was stopped just short of the first down by Zion Tracy, who managed to snuff him out and give PSU starting field position at the Wildcat 34-yard line. PSU would ultimately cash in on the short field with a TD to put themselves up 27-10 and never really look back.

The last-gasp trickeration may have failed and helped seal the deal for PSU, but respect to Coach Braun for choosing to go down swinging.