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Difference-Makers Come Alive Just in Time: BSD MVPs

KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Drew Allar and Dani Dennis-Sutton made big-time plays to keep Penn State’s Big Ten and playoff hopes alive.

Indiana v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

There was no shortage of thoughts going through my mind as I sat in the Beaver Stadium stands as Indiana had come back to tie the game 24-24 with just under three minutes remaining. Penn State was in the midst of by far its worst all-around performance of the season, and seemed on the cusp of being upset despite being a 30-point favorite over the Hoosiers, who seemed to have all the momentum in their favor.

Then the reality of covering the team poked its way through my rambling thoughts of how things went wrong. “Who the hell am I going to make MVP of this game? Will anyone even bother reading it after what we just saw?”

While waiting for the TV timeout to end, I debated whether to seach the stat sheet to settle on someone, or just bypass the MVP award for this week and instead write about Penn State’s inability for one of its star players to make a difference-making play at the right moment.

Apparently, I just needed to wait another minute or two.

Penn State started its next drive with 2:56 remaining, getting off on the right foot with consecutive first downs — an 11-yard pass to Kaytron Allen, followed by a 10-yard run, also by Allen. This set up a first and ten from the Nittany Lion 43 yard line, way too far for comfort on a day the offense lacked rhythm to keep drives alive. Then it happend.

Drew Allar did the thing we’ve been hoping to see throughout the season. Allar dropped back, looked deep, and threw deep to KeAndre Lambert-Smith down the sideline. The ball hung up for what seemed like several minutes before dropping right into Lambert-Smith’s hands, who had a step on the Indiana defender. Somehow, some way, Lambert-Smith then managed to maintain his balance and stay in bounds for the final 17 yards before reaching the end zone. It was the type of balancing act you would typically see from a tightrope walker 100 feet in the air with no net.

The game was far from over, though. Indiana still had almost two minutes and two timeouts to work with to tie the game or even take the lead. Considering they had found ways to create some explosive plays, as well as move the ball on its last couple drives, there was plenty of opporunity for the Hoosiers to still pull off a major upset.

Those hopes were immediately dashed on the Hoosiers’ first play of the drive. Dani Dennis-Sutton, who had barely come off the field with fellow defensive ends Chop Robinson and Amin Vanover out of action, came flying off the edge with enough force to seperate the ball from Indiana quarterback Brendan Sorsby’s hands. The ball was nearly recovered for a touchdown, but eventually rolled out of the end zone for a safety to ice the game.

Game. Set. Match.

Penn State’s difference-makers had their moment right when they were most needed.