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Penn State Makes Big Plays to Beat Pitt, 33-14



Coming into today’s game, no one gave Pitt a chance as most predictions had Penn State easily covering the three touchdown Las Vegas point spread.

However, Pat Narduzzi’s team was able to hang with the #4 team in the country on the road before eventually falling by the score of 33-14

The Pitt offense was able to win the battle on the ground and dominated the time of possession but the difference in the game turned out to be Penn State converting touchdowns on their scoring chances instead of kicking field goals like the Pitt offense was forced to do.

Things couldn’t start out worse for Pitt when Max Browne was intercepted by Grant Haley, who returned it to the Pitt 8 yard line.

Penn State’s high-powered offense turned that into a touchdown when Trace McSorley found tight end Mike Gesicki for a 8-yard touchdown. Penn State led 7-0.

Later in the 1st quarter, Pitt squandered a chance at points when Jester Weah dropped a perfectly thrown deep pass from Browne that would’ve moved Pitt to the Nittany Lions 30 yard line. Next play, Haley sacked Browne and Pitt was forced to punt instead of at least having a chance at points.

The combination of McSorley and Gesicki hooked up again near the end of the quarter to give Penn State a two touchdown lead. On that drive, Penn State’s offense was able to convert two third downs including the touchdown.

In the second quarter, Pitt once again wasted or dropped a chance to cut the lead in half.

On 3rd & 22, Browne found tight end Chris Clark for a deep completion but Penn State safety Marcus Allen hit Clark hard who wasn’t able to hold onto the ball.

Pitt was able to get on the board right before the half on a 28 yard field goal by Alex Kessman. Qadree Ollison was the work horse on that drive including runs of 17 and 12 yards. During that drive, Pitt was able to convert a 4th down on a jet sweep run by Darin Hall.

Instead of going into halftime down seven, Pitt trailed 14-3.

Pitt’s defense had a good first half limiting Saquon Barkley to 22 yards and McSorley to only 44 yards. As far as total yards, Pitt outgained Penn State 150-108 but the most important stat was Penn State’s two touchdowns to Pitt’s zero.

Realistically it’s impossible to completely shutdown a player like Barkley as Pitt’s defense found out early in the third quarter.

McSorley found the superstar back on a one-on-one matchup with linebacker Saleem Brightwell and 46-yards later Penn State led 21-3.

Ollison, who rushed for 127 yards, once again led Pitt down the field but like in the second quarter, the Pitt offense stalled in the redzone. Kessman came on to convert a 24 yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-6.

A big play or a bounce that could’ve changed the momentum of the game didn’t go Pitt’s way. Immediately after the kickoff, Penn State running back Miles Sanders fumbled at his own twenty yard line but the Nittany Lions were able to fight for the loose ball.

Neither team scored for the rest of the quarter and the game went into the final quarter with Pitt trailing 21-6.

Barkley essentially ended Pitt’s chances by capping off a long drive with a touchdown run to put Penn State up 28-6. For the game, Barkley finished with 133 yards rushing.

Pitt got within 28-14 when Ben DiNucci, who replaced Browne when his helmet was dislodged, scored on a quarterback keeper.

A couple of keys to the game were the excellent special teams play by Penn State especially their punt coverage team.

Also, they had a great game plan for Quadree Henderson. As many expected, they were ready for Henderson on the jet sweep and shut him down in the passing game.

Although they gave up 33 points, that was a bit misleading because I thought the Panthers defense turned in a pretty good effort. After starting shaky, the linebackers were effective and although they only produced one sack, the defensive line were physical and disruptive.

Things don’t get any easier for that group as they return home to face another high-powered offense with Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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