Penn State answered an early deficit to down Wisconsin, 22-10
By BILL ALBRIGHT
EasternPAFootball.com Senior Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK – When Wisconsin and Penn State squared off against each other Saturday at cold and blustery Beaver Stadium, both teams had more than just winning a football game on the line.
For the Nittany Lions, it was a chance to bounce back from a devastating drubbing at the hands of Michigan, while for the Badgers, it was an opportunity for them to stay in the hunt for a possible berth in the western division playoffs of the Big 10 Conference.
For the Lions, In addition to battling the elements, a slight hangover might have been somewhat evident from the loss to the Wolverines, but in the end, they had enough to down the Badgers 22-10 before 105,396 “ice cold” fans.
In the case of the Badgers, their loss to the Lions combined with Purdue’s loss and Northwestern’s win over Iowa, gave the western crown to the Wildcats.
“ First of all, I want to thank all the fans that came out and have come out all year long and supported us,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin. “ We were very, very fortunate to get a big win against a really good opponent in Wisconsin. I think the story of the game is we kind of won all the things that we talked about weekly. Drive start battle, we won that. The turnover battle, we won that, which I think was critical today. The penalty battle, very disciplined. We only had three penalties in the game. We won that. And then the explosive play battle, we won that as well. I think we could be more explosive offensively. But, I think that’s the story of the game when you are able to do all those things you’re going to have a chance to be successful.”
While Franklin felt that his troops won most of the battles as a team, he was also quick to point out some good individual efforts in the game that led to winning those team battles.
“A couple of things that stood out, Miles Sanders surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season, so that was great,” said Franklin. Fourteen straight winning seasons here. And then Robert Windsor had a career-high two sacks and he is from Wisconsin. I know he’s in the locker room talking about his mom flying back to Wisconsin and how happy she is. We’re happy to get a win. We’ll enjoy it for the night. There are some things that obviously we have to get cleaned up, there’s no doubt about that. We’re going to enjoy the win, and then obviously wake up tomorrow morning and get started on our next opponent.”
For Wisconsin, Jonathan Taylor stunned the crowd and the Penn State players when on the third play of the game, he took the pigskin to the house for a 79-yard touchdown.
As for the quick start, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said it was a good way to get things going, especially on the road, but it was only one play.
“Well, I mean you know it’s early. I mean you felt good,” said Chryst. “You were glad you were able to execute, and anytime you can start the game that way it’s good. Yet (you have to remember) there is a whole lot of game to be played.”
With the game deadlocked at 7-all following a 14-yard TD connection between quarterback Trace McSorley and wideout DeAndre Thompkins, the Lions took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a Jake Pinegar field goal in the final two minutes of the opening period.
“It’s always good to get into the end zone,“ said Thompkins. “Doing your job right and having the quarterback trust you to make the play feels great. As for the touchdown play, there was a cover-two and they played to the boundary and I had a read out so basic cover-two. I had to run a corner and keep it high. I did the job and made the catch.”
Running back Mile Sanders extended the Lion lead when he bulled in from one yard out midway through the second quarter to give the ‘Nits a 16-7 advantage to the locker room at the break.
As for the Lions success in the running game, Sanders said it comes down to gaining confidence and the play of the guys up front.
“Seeing the confidence in the O-line, I think everyone is seeing that today,” said Sanders. “I was talking to all of them individually, saying we played our best today. We struggled for a couple weeks. Even when the running game struggled it was the running backs and the O-line., not just the O-line. Even though we struggled, I told them earlier in the week we were going to run the ball. We had confidence going into this game.”
The kickers took over the scoring efforts in the second half, as Pinegar nailed his second of three with a 42-yard effort with four minutes left in the third period before he completed his version of the “Hat Trick” with a 23-yard chip shot with 6 minutes left in the game to push the PSU lead to 22-10, an advantage that held up for the final.
Wisconsin 7 0 3 0 – 10
Penn State 10 6 3 3 – 22
11:04 WIS – Jonathan Taylor, 71 run (Rafael Gaglianone kick), (0-7)
07:41 PSU – DeAndre Thompkins 14 pass from Trace McSorley (Jake Pinegar kick). (7-7)
01:53 PSU – Pinegar 49 FG. (10-7)
8:09 PSU – Miles Sanders 1 run. (kick failed). (16-7)
9:45 WIS – Gaglianone 28 FG. (16-10)
4:07 PSU – Pinegar 42 FG. (19-10)
7:23 PSU – Pinegar 32 FG. (22-10)
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