BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — That was wild.
In overtime, QB Michael Penix reached the front edge of the pylon and broke the plane on a scramble to give the Hoosiers its first top-10 win since 1987. Two Stevie Scott touchdowns and three first-half takeaways by the defense early helped carry the Indiana (1-0) beat the #8 Penn St. Nittany Lions (0-1), 36-35.
The game started off unfavorably for Indiana. The Nittany Lions offense steadily marched down the field, punctuating their opening drive with a two-yard TD pass to future NFL TE Pat Freiermuth.
Then, after the teams exchanged two punts each, things changed on a big mistake by PSU QB Sean Clifford. On a screen pass intended for Devyn Ford, Clifford overthrew his intended receiver, with the pass fluttering into the awaiting hands of junior DB Jaylin Williams. It was Williams’ 2nd pick of his career, with the last one coming in 2018 vs. Maryland.
Indiana’s defense didn’t stop there. On the next four drives, the Hoosier defense and special teams forced a punt, interception, fumble, and missed field goal to go into the break leading, 17-7. The interception was Jamar Johnson’s 3rd in three games (Purdue, Tennessee, Penn St.), then he punched the ball out of Will Levis’ hands, recovered by stout DT Jerome Johnson.
Indiana’s offense had a tough time firing on all cylinders against Penn State’s defense, which played tight coverage all afternoon against IU’s talented receiving corps. Through three quarters, the Hoosiers totaled just 100 yards of offense, and QB Michael Penix was just 7-for-14, for 62 yards. Takeaways in great field position contributed to some of that, but Indiana’s offense averaged a meager 4.1 yards per play all game.
PSU signal-caller Sean Clifford had difficulties throwing the ball down the field, but he kept the Hoosiers defense off-balance all day, registering a career-high 119 rushing yards, including a nifty 35-yard touchdown where he avoided a number of Hoosier tacklers.
After an outstanding blitz pickup by PSU guard Mike Miranda, Clifford found WR Jahan Dotson for a 60-yard bomb to give the Nittany Lions their first lead of the night.
After failing on 4th down, Indiana allowed RB Devyn Ford to score on purpose in order to get the ball back. On the ensuing drive, Penix matriculated the ball down the field, and after he hit Peyton Hendershot to get down to the one-yard line, Penix used the ol’ QB sneak to bring IU within 28-26. On the two-point conversion, new OC Nick Sheridan called a QB draw, which Penix took into the end zone to tie the game.
After a sloppy squib attempt by new kickoff man Jared Smolar, Penn State pushed the ball down to the IU 40, before bringing new kicker Jordan Stout to try a game-winning 57 yard field goal. The ball fell inches short of the crossbar, taking the game to overtime.
A 3rd down touchdown from Clifford to freshman Parker Washington gave Penn St. its biggest lead, a seven-point advantage after the top of the first overtime. When Indiana had the football, Penix found Whop Philyor in the end zone to bring IU within one. Allen called for the two-point conversion, and Penix made it happen.
Featured Image: Indiana University Athletics