Courtesy of GoPSU Athletics
Photos by Tim Weight
The Nittany Lions earn their 10th win of the season and take back the Land Grant Trophy
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 11/10/11 Penn State football team (10-2, 7-2 B1G) defeated Michigan State, 35-16, Saturday afternoon in the Nittany Lions’ Senior Day game. Penn State is now 17-10 in the Land Grant Trophy series with the Spartans.
Penn State’s defense allowed just eight yards on the ground in the first half to help the Nittany Lions take a 14-3 lead into the locker room. Abdul Carter and Ji’Ayir Brown led the defense with seven tackles each. Penn State’s defensive unit also recovered two fumbles, broke up 10 passes and recorded three sacks in the game.
The Nittany Lions held the edge in the run game, outgaining the Spartans 160 to 25 on the ground, with the freshman duo of Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton leading the way. Allen tied his career high with 21 carries for 82 yards. Singleton set a career best with 17 attempts, for 78 yards. In his final game in Beaver Stadium, Sean Clifford went 19-for-24 for 202 yards and career-high-tying four touchdowns to guide Penn State to the victory.
The tight ends for the Nittany Lions hauled in three touchdowns in the contest. Following a fumble recovery on special teams, Tyler Warren brought in a score in the third quarter following two in the first half by Theo Johnson.
KeAndre Lambert-Smith posted a season-best performance with five catches for 82 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. He became the first receiver in program history to throw and receive a touchdown pass in a single game when he tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Johnson to give the Nittany Lions a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. The score was the 11th passing touchdown by a non-quarterback in program history and the fourth-longest pass.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Penn State had three takeaways on the day, which included a Spartan turnover on the first drive of the game. Tyler Elsdon recovered a fumbled backwards pass by the Spartans and set up the Penn State offense at the 24-yard line.
Penn State struck first with a Johnson touchdown catch with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. The 11-play, 90-yard drive was highlighted by 54 rushing yards by Singleton and a The 90-yard drive is the second-longest in terms of yards for Penn State this season.
The Nittany Lions scored their second touchdown of the day on a 48-yard pass by Lambert-Smith to Johnson for a 14-0 lead with 11:22 left in the first half. Michigan State got on the board with a 51-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
With 6:27 left in the third quarter, safety Ji’Ayir Brown forced a fumble on punt return and Tyler Warren recovered at Michigan State’s 17-yard line. Warren saw the payoff for the turnover as Clifford hit him for a 14-yard pass two plays later for a 21-3 lead.
The Spartans scored their first touchdown of the game with 1:37 left in the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Payton Thorne to Maliq Carr.
Michigan State made it a 21-16 game with 10:52 left in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard scamper by Payton Thorne. The Spartans attempted a two-point conversion pass, but the throw was broken up by Keaton Ellis after Brown hurried Thorne.
On the ensuing Penn State drive, Clifford connected with Singleton on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 4:31 remaining. King’s interception on the Spartans’ next drive set up a 35-yard connection between Clifford and Lambert-Smith to put the game out of reach at 35-16.