Michigan State over Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK — For the second game in a row, it was the same old story. Play an enthusiastic first half and then go into hiding in the second half.
But the bottom line in a 21-17 loss to Michigan State Saturday afternoon was the emergence of an old adage, that being, if you let a team hang around, they come back to bit you in the butt.
“We had a chance to put away a proud program and a good program and a very good football coach. We had a chance to put them away several times on offense, on defense, and on special teams and we didn’t do it,” lamented Penn State head coach James Franklin. “We let them stay in the game. They were able to run the ball especially on first down which hurt us. They hadn’t really been able to do that consistently all year long. They were able to get into second and six, second and five, second and four situations too often.”
While unhappy with the overall effort of his team, Franklin gave credit where credit was due.
“Overall, we have to give Michigan State credit,” said Franklin. “We didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game. We lost in too many critical situations. We won the drive start battle, and were even in turnovers which we can’t be even in turnovers. We just put the ball on the ground way too much.”
There weren’t a ton of penalties, but one might have been the biggest play of the game. With MSU having a first-and-goal on the PSU one-yard line, the Lion defense stiffened for an outstanding goal line stand. However, a costly penalty all but wiped out that effort that gave the Spartans new life.
“As for penalties, they only had three and we had six for forty-one,” explained Franklin. “Obviously, the one on the goal-line stand. Our goal-line stand was as good as it gets, and then we give it (possession) right back to them with a penalty. We lost the explosive play battle, we lost the penalty battle, we were even in turnovers and we won field position by a couple of yards. You don’t win that way when you don’t put people away and you don’t win the critical stats.”
So in the end, what was the biggest factor in tine loss? Was it things that Michigan State did or things that Penn State didn’t do?
“We’ve had opportunities, but you’ve got to be able to make those opportunities (pay off),” said Franklin. “But, on offense, defense and special teams we’ve made a few mistakes and a few mistakes end up losing a game like that. We’ve got to get those mistakes cleaned up, there’s no doubt about it. We’re making too many of them that are self-inflicted.”
A quick look at the final game stats would show you that one possible factor in the Lions lack of success as they move on in the season is that they are too predictable instead of spreading the wealth around beyond Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders.
Sanders finished with 162 yards and one TD on 17 attempts, while McSorley, after showing good balance between his passing and rushing, threw for 192 yards on a 19-for-32 day, but could only net 37 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
“I think the issue isn’t necessarily the running with Trace [McSorley] today, because this team (Michigan State) only gave up 33 yards per game (prior to today). The issue was that we weren’t able to throw the ball against a team that people were having a lot of success throwing the ball. That was the issue.”
J. Hamler gave the Lions the initial lead in the game when he caught a 5-yard TD pass from McSorley with five minutes left in the opening period, but the Lion lead was short-lived as the Spartans answered the Hamler TD when La’Darius Jefferson bulled in from one yard out following the costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Lions.
On the drive that resulted in Hamler’s TD, Sanders made the biggest noise when he ripped off a 78-yard run before getting tackled on the PSU 5.
The Lions regained the lead late in the second period and again it was Sanders doing his thing as he swerved and juked a couple of MSU defenders to complete a 48-yard TD jaunt to paydirt.
The Spartans did the only scoring in the third period when Felton Davis hauled in a 20-yard scoring aerial from Brian Lewerke to once again tie the game, this time at 14-all.
With the Lion offense spitting and sputtering for most of the second half, Jake Pinegar gave the Lions their third lead in the game at 17-14 when he drilled a 20-yard field with nine minutes left.
But that is when the roof caved in on the Lions as the Spartans took possession on their own 24 with 1:19 on the clock.
Going to the airways, Lewerke led the Spartans down the field until he found Davis open for the final 25 yards and the touchdown with just 19 ticks of the clock left in the game.
Now 4-2 and 1-2 in the Big 10, the Lions will venture to Indiana to face the Hoosiers Saturday before returning to Beaver Stadium to host Iowa the following week when the Hawkeyes roll into town.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan State 0 7 7 7 21
Penn State 7 7 0 3 17
Qtr Time Scoring Play V-H
1st 05:03 PSU – Hamler, KJ 5 yd pass from McSorley, Trace (Pinegar, Jake kick), 4-94 1:32 0 – 7
2nd 13:25 MSU – Jefferson, L. 1 yd run (Coghlin, Matt kick), 11-81 4:03 7 – 7
04:33 PSU – Sanders, Miles 48 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 5-64 2:18 7 – 14
3rd 06:10 MSU – Davis, Felton 20 yd pass from Lewerke, Brian (Coghlin, Matt kick), 5-64 2:16 14 – 14
4th 09:21 PSU – Pinegar, Jake 20 yd field goal, 11-55 5:15 14 – 17
00:19 MSU – Davis, Felton 25 yd pass from Lewerke, Brian (Coghlin, Matt kick), 8-76 1:00 21 – 17
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