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Football Comeback Falls Short at Pittsburgh, 42-39

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Heinz Field | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 69,983


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VIDEO: Coach Franklin Postgame
VIDEO: Player Postgame


Sept. 10, 2016

PITTSBURGH - A 332-yard passing day for sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) and five total touchdowns by running back sophomore Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) wasn't enough to overcome the strong rushing attack of Pitt in a 42-39 setback for the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon in Heinz Field. The 69,983 in attendance marked the largest crowd ever at a city of Pittsburgh sporting event.

Barkley scored a career high five touchdowns and totaled 147 all-purpose yards, but the Pitt rushing attack, led by 117 yards from James Connor, was too much to overcome. Barkley's five touchdowns including four of the rushing variety, accounted for 30 points in the game. The 30 points rank tied for No. 4 in school history and is the first 30-point game for Penn State since Ki-Jana Carter had 30 points against Michigan State on Nov. 26, 1994. He is the first Big Ten player since Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon scored 30 points vs. Bowling Green in 2014.

McSorley became the 12th quarterback in Penn State history to throw for 300 yards, with his 332 passing yards ranking No. 13 in a single game. He completed a career-high 24-of-35 passes, threw one touchdown pass and one interception. He spread the ball to eight different receivers, including eight to junior wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.).

The 81 points scored were the most combined points in the history of the 97-game Penn State-Pitt series.

Turning Point

Pitt led by as many as 21 points in the first half, but the game was in the hands of the Penn State offence trailing by three points with 3:56 remaining. After driving to the Pitt 32, McSorley's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Ryan Lewis and Pitt was able to kneel out the clock for the win.

Difference Makers

Penn State

  • RB Saquon Barkley - Toted the ball 20 times for 85 yards, caught two passes for 45 yards and returned one kickoff for 17 yards to total 147 all-purpose yards. Netted five total touchdowns - four rushing - to become the first Big Ten player since 2014 (Melvin Gordon, vs. Bowling Green) to account for 30 points in a game. Is the first Nittany Lion with 30 points since Ki-Jana Carter (1994, vs. Michigan State) and his total is tied for No. 4 in single game scoring at Penn State.
  • QB Trace McSorley - Set career-highs for completions (24), attempts (35) and passing yards (332). The 332 passing yards are No. 13 on the Penn State single season charts and mark his first career 300-yard passing game.
  • WR DaeSean Hamilton - Brought in eight passes for 82 yards and caught a two-point conversion from McSorley in the fourth quarter.
  • WR DeAndre Thompkins - Entered the season with three career grabs for 33 yards and made three catches for 87 yards vs. the Panthers. Now has four catches for 130 yards through two games in 2016.
  • LB Nyeem Wartman-White -Posted nine tackles, including a career-high 3.0 tackles-for-loss. Of his nine hits, seven were of the solo variety.
  • DE Torrence Brown - A career-high six tackles and 2.0 tackles-for-loss were not enough for Brown vs. Pitt, as he added his first career forced fumble against the Panthers.
  • S Malik Golden - Hauled in his second career interception at Pitt.
  • CB John Reid - Recovered his second career fumble and added a career-high-tying five stops. Also returned four punts for 61 yards - including a career-long 59 yard scamper.
  • P Blake Gillikin - Booted five punts - only one in the second half - and averaged 46.6 yards per kick. Pinned Pitt inside the 20 on three occasions, with two of those landing inside the 10. His first punt pinned the Panthers at their own one yard line.
  • K Tyler Davis - Remained perfect in his career with a 38 yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He is now 11-for-11 to start his career. He also made all four PAT attempts on the day, making him 18-for-18 on point after kicks.


  • RB James Conner - Gained 117 yards on 22 carries and added a team-high-tying four catches for 29 yards, scoring one on the ground and once through the air.
  • Pitt Rushing Attack - The Panthers watched as eight different players rushed the ball, with seven of them averaging more than 4.0 yards per carry.
  • QB Nathan Peterman - Did work on the ground and through the air, compiling 91 yards passing and 52 yards rushing, while not getting sacked in the game. Completed 11-of-15 passes and threw three scoring strikes.
  • WR Quadree Henderson - Henderson was effective through the air and on the ground, catching three passes for a team-high 47 yards, returning two kickoffs for 96 yards - including an 84-yarder that set up the eventual winning score - and rushing for 58 yards.
  • DB Ryan Lewis - Led the Panthers with nine tackles - all solo - and sealed the victory with an interception with 1:15 to play.

Scoring Drives
1st Qtr
Pitt - 8:03 - TD - George Aston, 1 yd Rush, 10 plays, 99 yards, 4:43 - 0-7
Pitt - 7:16 - TD - Quadree Henderson, 7 yd pass from Peterman, 2 plays, 12 yards, 0:38 - 0-14
PSU - 2:42 - TD - Saquon Barkley, 3 yd rush, 1 play, 15 yards, 0:09 - 7-14
2nd Qtr
Pitt - 13:38 - TD - Scott Orndoff, 2 yd rush, 9 plays, 74 yards, 4:04 - 7-21
Pitt - 11:54 - TD - George Aston, 3 yd rush, 3 plays, 30 yards, 1:07 - 7-28
PSU - 0:42 - TD - Saquon Barkley, 1 yd rush, 8 plays, 83 yards, 2:35 - 14-28
3rd Qtr
PSU - 11:54 - TD - Saquon Barkley, 40 yd pass from McSorley, 2 plays, 46 yards, 0:39 - 21-28
Pitt - 7:24 - TD - James Conner, 1 yd rush, 11 plays, 75 yards, 4:30 - 21-35
4th Qtr
PSU - 13:42 - TD - Saquon Barkley, 1 yd rush, 7 plays, 68 yards, 2:04 - 28-35
PSU - 12:04 - FG - Tyler Davis, 38 yd kick, 4 plays, -9 yards, 1:31 - 31-35
Pitt - 10:24 - TD - James Connor, 12 yd pass from Nathan Peterman, 3 plays, 10 yards, 1:40 - 31-42
PSU - 5:00 - TD - Saquon Barkley (2pt Conversion - Hamilton from McSorley), 2 yd rush, 6 plays, 60 yards, 1:30 - 39-42

Key Drives
First Quarter
PITT 12:46-8:03 (4:43, 10 plays, 99 yards) - TOUCHDOWN
Despite getting pinned on their own 1-yard line on a Blake Gillikin punt, the Panthers were able to find the end zone. James Conner tallied 48 yards on four carries and Quadree Henderson broke free for a 38-yard gain to key the drive. George Aston rushed for the touchdown from 1 yard out.
Pitt 7, Penn State 0

PITT 7:54-7:16 (0:38, 2 plays, 12 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Pitt took advantage of a sack fumble by Ejuan Price at the Penn State 12. On the second play from scrimmage, Nathan Peterman connected with Henderson on a 7-yard passing touchdown.
Pitt 14, Penn State 0

PENN STATE 2:51-2:42 (0:09, 1 plays, 15 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

John Reid returned a punt a career long 59 yards to set the Lions up on their own 15. McSorley tried to connect with Mike Gesicki in the end zone, but he was interfered with, resulting in a 12-yard penalty to the 3. Barkley punched it into the end zone on the next play.
Pitt 14, Penn State 7
Second Quarter

PITT 2:42 (1st)-13:38(2nd) (4:04, 9 plays, 74 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Peterman opened the drive with a 24-yard completion to Henderson, and two plays later, a 16-yard completion placed Pitt at the Penn State 19. After four rushes to move the ball to the 2-yard line, Peterman found tight end Scott Orndoff in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
Pitt 21, Penn State 7

PITT 13:01-11:54 (1:07, 3 plays, 30 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Price was able to force another fumble from McSorley, giving Pitt the ball at the Penn State 30 after Jordan Whitehead returned it nine yards. The ball went to Whitehead on the first offensive play, and he rushed it 28 yards to the Penn State 2. Conner lost a yard on the next play, but Aston broke through for a 3-yard touchdown carry.
Pitt 28, Penn State 7

PSU 3:17-0:42 (2:35, 8 plays, 83 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Penn State assembled its longest drive of the game just before the end of the half. Three passing plays and a penalty moved the ball near midfield, and then Barkley broke free for 29 yards to the Pitt 25. McSorley hit Gesicki on a 24-yard completion to the 1 down the right sideline. On his second try, Barkley leapt and reached over the goal line for a touchdown.
Pitt 28, Penn State 14
Third Quarter

PSU 12:33-11:54 (0:39, 2 plays, 46 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Pitt received the kickoff to open the second half, but after appearing to pick-up a first down, a pair of penalties and a stop in the backfield by Torrence Brown resulted in a 4-yard loss back to Pitt's 9. Penn State took over at the Pitt 46, and after a 6-yard completion to Hamilton, Barkley slipped out of the backfield down the left sideline, where McSorley found him with a short pass, that Barkley took 40 yards to the end zone.
Pitt 28, Penn State 21

PITT 11:54-7:24 (4:30, 11 plays, 75 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

An 18-yard rush by Oadree Ollison and a 20-yard rush by Darrin Hall highlighted the touchdown drive. Hall's rush took the ball to the 4-yard line, and Conner punched it in from a yard out on second-and-goal.
Pitt 35, Penn State 21
Fourth Quarter

PSU 0:46(3rd)-11:54 (2:04, 7 plays, 68 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Following a missed field goal, Penn State took over at its own 32. Deandre Thompkins was key to the drive, hauling in a 14-yard reception on 3rd-and-8, and then following an 11-yard Barkley rush, making a one-handed, over the shoulder catch for 39 yards to the Pitt 2. Back-to-back 1-yard runs by Barkley resulted in his third rushing touchdown and fourth touchdown of the day.
Pitt 35, Penn State 28

PITT 13:42-13:35 (0:07, 1 plays, 2 yards) - FUMBLE

Brown forced a fumble on Pitt's first play following the kickoff from its previous touchdown. John Reid recovered it at the Pitt 15 and returned it to the Pitt 11.
Pitt 35, Penn State 28

PSU 13:35-12:04 (1:31, 4 plays, -9 yards) - FIELD GOAL

Penn State ultimately lost yardage when McSorley was sacked on third down. Tyler Davis remained perfect on kick attempts though, kicking a 38-yard field goal to bring Penn State within four.
Pitt 35, Penn State 31

PITT 12:04-10:24 (1:40, 3 plays, 10 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to the Penn State 10. The Nittany Lions forced third-and-long, but Peterson dumped the ball underneath to Conner who slipped through for a 12-yard touchdown reception.
Pitt 42, Penn State 31

PSU 6:30-5:00 (1:30, 6 plays, 60 yards) - TOUCHDOWN

Starting near midfield, Penn State drove it down to the Pitt two yard line, in large part on the arm of McSorley. A 27 yard completion to Juwan Johnson kick started the drive and a 19-yard connection with Hamilton pushed the Nittany Lions just three yards from paydirt. Barkley capitalized on the short yardage, needing two carries for his fourth rushing score of the game. Down four points after the touchdown, Penn State went for the two-point conversion, and McSorley found Hamilton on a scramble to make it a three-point game.
Pitt 42, Penn State 39

PSU 3:56-1:15 (2:41, 7 plays, 40 yards) - Interception

After Malik Golden's nice open field tackle ended Pitt's drive in three-and-out fashion, Penn State took the field with 3:56 to play and a chance to tie the game or take the lead for the first time. A Barkley rush for 11 yards started the drive and two plays later it looked as if McSorley had Hamilton down the home sideline for a score, but the ball fell to the turf. After a Pitt sack made it 3rd-and-16, McSorley found Thompkins across the middle for a 34-yard gain to move the Nittany Lions to the Pitt 32. After a Barkley rush for one yard, McSorley looked towards the end zone, but his pass - intended for Irvin Charles - was intercepted by Ryan Lewis. Pitt knelled three times to run out the clock on the ensuing drive.
Pitt 42, Penn State 39

Up Next
Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium Sept. 17 hosting another in-state foe, Temple. To purchase tickets or for information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2016 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, call 1-800-NITTANY or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.

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