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Just Throw It Deep: Penn State 33 Indiana 24

Is there such a thing as a disappointing victory?

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

On an unseasonably warm late October afternoon, Penn State rebounded from their first loss of the season to defeat Indiana.

The Hoosiers got the ball first to start the game, and quickly went three-and-out after two incompletions by Indiana backup quarterback Brendan Sorsby.

Penn State started from their own 27 on their first offense drive. Nicholas Singleton ran twice for six yards, before Drew Allar hit Theo Johnson for an early third-down conversion. Two plays later, the T-formation made its return, but was stuffed two yards shy of the first down, resulting in a Riley Thompson punt amid a chorus of boos from the Beaver Stadium faithful.

Indiana began their second series 92 yards from the end zone, and was backed up immediately thanks to a false start penalty. They managed to get a handful of yards, before Kevin Winston leveled Sorsby on a third down scramble five yards shy of the mark.

The offense started their next drive at their 31 after a booming punt by James Evans. Unfortunately, the offense managed just eight yards on three plays, including a Singleton fumble on first down that was recovered by Tre Wallace, and Thompson again pinned the Hoosiers deep. Hoosier receiver DeQuece Carter showed the Nittany Lion wideouts how to get separation, streaking past the defense for a 90-yard touchdown on a pretty throw from Sorsby down the right sideline, and with 7:37 left in the first quarter, the visitors led Penn State 7-0.

After another Nittany Lion three-and-out, the special teams got a big break on a muffed punt that was recovered by Winston, and the offense had the ball at the Hoosier 32. The drive was extended thanks to a Posterior Plunge conversion on fourth and short, and on another fourth down, Allar hit a wide-open Khalil Dinkins for a nine-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 1:37 to go in the opening stanza.

Following a Hoosiers’ three-and-out (and a DaeQuan Hardy punt return for a score that was called back thanks to an illegal block), the Lions began their next drive 90 yards from the lead. Allar hit Tyler Warren down the middle (GASP) for a 21-yard completion to start the drive, but missed on a deep shot (BIGGER GASP) to Dante Cephas, and failed to gain the necessary yardage on two check-down throws.

On the next drive, the Hoosiers took advantage of some, shall we say...loose pass coverage? Sorsby hit a wide-open Donaven McCulley for a not-nice 69-yard touchdown down the left sideline, giving the Hoosiers a 14-7 lead with 13:26 left in the half.

With Penn State desperately in need of an explosive play, Singleton took the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to set up the offense nicely, and Allar hit KeAndre Lambert-Smith on the left sideline for a third-down conversion to the 33. Unfortunately, Allar’s nicely-placed throw on third down slipped out of Lambert-Smith’s hands, and Alex Felkins’ field goal sailed wide left to keep the deficit at 14-7.

The Hoosiers managed to get the ball to midfield, and nearly converted a wild fourth down despite a bad snap, but they were marked just short of the Penn State 40.

Singleton picked up five yards on three consecutive plays, and after Theo Johnson was called for offensive pass interference, Allar hit Singleton downfield for 28 yards to the Hoosier 31. Three plays later, another pass interference call, this time on the defense covering Tyler Warren, gave Penn State a first and goal at the nine. Three plays later, the T-formation led to a Singleton touchdown, knotting the game at 14 with 2:02 left in the first half.

The Hoosiers mounted a drive to close the half, but Jaylen Reed picked off Sorsby’s ill-advised throw across his body, and the Nittany Lions had a chance at the lead going into the break. Allar converted another third down to Lambert-Smith, but an intentional grounding call on third down from the 18 resulted in a Felkins 50-yard field goal, giving Penn State a 17-14 lead at the break.

Singleton led all Nittany Lions at the half with 16 touches for 70 yards, and was the second-leading pass catcher behind Lambert-Smith. Allar completed 70 percent of his passes for 106 yards and the touchdown to Dinkins. The offense also converted four of their 12 third downs, giving them three more conversions than last week against the (clearly better) Buckeye defense. Penn State was also slowed by an uncharacteristic five first-half penalties, but buoyed by two Indiana turnovers and the aforementioned failed fourth-down conversion leading to all 17 points.

The Nittany Lions opened the second half with a pair of eight-yard runs by Kaytron Allen and a short completion to Lambert-Smith. After a failed deep shot to Malik McClain, Allen spun off of several tackles and muscled 12 yards for a first down to the Indiana 41. The offense picked up two more first downs, the second on a nice scramble by Allar, and Allar capped off the 12-play, 75-yard drive with a pretty 16-yard rainbow to Theo Johnson. With 8:39 left in the third quarter, Penn State led Indiana 24-14.

The Hoosiers again moved the ball on their opening drive of the half, matriculating inside the Penn State 40, and even though Kalen King’s hard hit jarred the ball loose on an attempted third down pass conversion, Sorsby scrambled for the first down on fourth and three down to the 33. On third down from the 10, Big Play DaeDae Hardy drilled Sorsby on a corner blitz for the team’s first sack of the game, and Chris Freeman’s 37-yard kick sailed wide right to keep the score at 24-14.

Penn State’s offense took over at their own 19, but gained just two yards on the next three plays, giving the ball back to Indiana. The Hoosiers drove down the field, going 80 yards in 12 plays, punctuated by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sorsby to Omar Cooper, Jr.

Indiana forced the Nittany Lions to punt on their next possession, and had the ball and the chance to tie or take the lead with 7:46 left in the contest. Fortunately, the defense stepped up to force a punt and gave the ball back to Allar and the offense at their own 12. Unfortunately, Allar was hurried into a poor decision, throwing his first interception of his career (and the first interception for Indiana this season) down the middle of the field to set up Indiana at the Penn State 21 with five minutes remaining. The Hoosiers managed just four yards, but Freeman hit the 35-yard field goal to tie the game with 2:58 remaining.

The Hoosiers kicked it short, and Tyler Warren returned it across the 30, but a holding call on Malik McClain set the offense back to the 22. Allar started the drive with an 11-yard pass to Allen, who took the ball for 10 more on a run, setting up Allar for a chef’s kiss deep ball to Lambert-Smith, who outran his pursuers down the right sideline for the 57-yard go-ahead touchdown, making it 31-24 with 1:46 left. SEE, MIKE? YOU CAN THROW IT DEEP AND HAVE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN!

The defense punctuated the victory, as Dani Dennis-Sutton forced a Sorsby fumble on a sack, and the fumble found its way 25 yards backwards out of the end zone (with several Nittany Lions unable to corral it), giving the game its final of 33-24.

Drew Allar was 20 of 31 for 210 yards, three touchdowns, and his first interception. Kaytron Allen led the running backs with 18 carries for 81 yards, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith had six catches for 96 yards and the go-ahead touchdown reception. Despite the overall struggles offensively, they converted on all of their four trips in the red zone. Defensively, Penn State had three second-half sacks, and were led by Jaylen Reed’s eight tackles and one interception.

Certainly not pretty, but Penn State moves to 7-1, and faces a Maryland team that fell to Northwestern today.