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IOWA CITY, Iowa. -Down four facing fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line with four seconds remaining, Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) quarterbackTrace McSorleyzipped a pass over the middle to wide receiverJuwan Johnsonon a crossing route in the back of the end zone, giving the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions a 21-19 win over Iowa (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) in the Big Ten football opener for both teams Saturday night in Kinnick Stadium.
Saquon Barkley led Penn State with the most prolific night in Nittany Lion history, as he totaled a school-record 358 all-purpose yards by rushing 28 times for 211 yards and a touchdown, catching 12 passes for 94 yards and returning three kickoffs for 53 yards.
McSorley was held without a touchdown pass until the final play, but extended his streak to 19 consecutive games. He completed 31-of-48 passes for 284 yards on the night, while rushing for 61 yards on 17 attempts.
Johnson enjoyed a career night, as his seven catches for 92 yards were both career highs, and the touchdown was the first of his career.
Penn State's offense ultimately ran 99 plays and totaled 579 yards, while its defense limited Iowa to 273 yards on 45 plays. Iowa totaled 219 of those yards in the second half though as they rallied from a 15-7 deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. McSorley engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive though with 1:42 remaining.
Trailing 15-7 after a Penn State punt, Iowa took over at its own 26 with 11:32 remaining in the game. On third-and-6 from the 30, running back Akrum Wadley broke free for a 70-yard touchdown reception with 10:02 remaining. The two-point conversion was no good, and Penn State took over with a two-point lead from its own 11.
Penn State ultimately wound 7:20 off the clock with a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a blocked 31-yard field goal. It was nearly a three-and-out, but Barkley hurdled a defender on third-and-six on a screen pass for a first down to keep the drive alive. Barkley also converted a fourth-and-1 at the Iowa 43, rushing for four yards to the Iowa 39. The drive stalled out at the 13 though, and Iowa took over at the 20 with 2:42 remaining after the blocked field goal.
A pass interference penalty on the first play moved the Hawkeyes to their 35, and then completions from quarterback Nate Stanley of eight and 22 yards advanced Iowa to the Penn State 35. Wadley found a seam to rush 35 yards for the touchdown with 1:42 to go. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Iowa with a 19-15 lead.
After the kickoff, Penn State took over at its own 20. McSorley found Johnson for 12 yards, and then missed on his next two before completing an eight-yard pass to Barkley to bring up fourth-and-2. Penn State called timeout with 58 seconds remaining, and then McSorley zipped a six-yard pass toSaeed Blacknallover the middle for six yards to the Penn State 46 to move the chains.
McSorley next took open field for 12 yards to the 42, and then he completed an 18-yard pass to Johnson and a 14-yard pass to Barkley to the Iowa 10. McSorley found tight endMike Gesickifor three yards to the 7, but his next two passes were incomplete, and Penn State called timeout on fourth down with four seconds remaining.
McSorley found Johnson for the winning score.
- RBSaquon Barkley- Barkley totaled a school-record 358 all-purpose yards by rushing 28 times for 211 yards and a touchdown, catching 12 passes for 94 yards and returning three kickoffs for 53 yards. His rushing yardage total of 211 was a career high, bettering his 207-yard effort at Purdue from last season, while his 12 catches were also a career high. It was his third career 200-plus yard rushing effort. He crossed 3,000 yards rushing to become the 11th player in Penn State history to accomplish the feat.
- QBTrace McSorley- McSorley totaled 345 yards of total offense for the night, setting career highs for completions (31) and passing attempts (48) as he threw for 284 yards and a touchdown. His 17 rushing attempts were two short of his career high, and he gained 61 yards on the ground.
- WRJuwan Johnson- Johnson set career highs with seven catches for 92 yards, while first career touchdown was certainly a memorable one as it gave Penn State the win with 0:00 remaining.
- DEShareef Miller- Miller helped Penn State earn its second safety of the season as one of his two tackles for loss was in the end zone. His five tackles tied for the second team overall but they were all solo to lead the team.
- SMarcus Allen- Allen forced a fumble that led to a Penn State touchdown drive in the third quarter and made five tackles, including a sack and two behind the line.
- LB Josey Jewell - Jewell was disruptive, picking off a McSorley pass late in the second quarter to setup a touchdown just before the break, recovering a fumble late in the third quarter, breaking up two passes and making a game-high 16 tackles, including three for a loss.
- RB Akrum Wadley - Wadley struggled to penetrate the Penn State defense for most of the night, but found space for a 70-yard touchdown reception and a go-ahead 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He finished with 155 all-purpose yards, rushing 19 times for 80 yards and catching four passes for 75 yards.
- QB Nate Stanley - Threw a pair of touchdown passes, with one coming right before halftime after a Penn State turnover and another on Wadley's 70-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
First Half (Iowa 7, Penn State 5)
Penn State outgained Iowa 219 yards to 54 in the first half, but Iowa took advantage of a late interception for a halftime lead and the half's lone touchdown.
Both teams punted on their first two possessions before Penn State got on the board with a field goal with 1:01 remaining in the first quarter. Penn State drove 66 yards on 11 plays to the Iowa 1-yard line, with Barkley carrying the ball three times for 33 yards and catching two passes for 14 yards to key the drive. The Hawkeyes held strong at the goal line though, stopping McSorley at the pylon on third down, and the Nittany Lions elected to haveTyler Daviskick a 19-yard field goal.
The Nittany Lions got into field goal range again on their next offensive possession, but Davis missed a 41-yard attempt wide left. The defense continued to hold strong though, yielding just three yards to force its third three-and-out. A penalty on the punt moved Iowa back five yards, and a 32-yard punt with a 15-yard kick catch interference penalty gave Penn State the ball at the Iowa 38. The Hawkeye defense moved the Lions back two yards, butBlake Gillikindirected high kick deep into Iowa territory andIrvin Charlesdowned it at the 1-yard line.
Iowa gained a pair of yards on a quarterback sneak, butShareef Millerwas able to get into the backfield on a pitch to Akrum Wadley for a safety with 7:40 remaining in the half, giving the Lions a 5-0 lead.
Penn State reached Iowa territory again after the free kick, aided by an 18-yard reception by Johnson, but was stopped on fourth-and-3 at the Iowa 32.
The Penn State defense only yielded a first down, and the Nittany Lions took over at their own 6 with 1:52 remaining after a 53-yard punt. After a two-yard loss, McSorley connected withDaeSean Hamiltonfor 23 yards to the 27, and withDeAndre Thompkinsfor seven to the 34, and Barkley followed with an 11-yard rush to the 45. On the next play though, McSorley was hit as he threw, knocking the trajectory of his throw to a wide openMike Gesickilower, and straight into the hands of linebacker Josey Jewell.
Jewell returned the pick 33 yards to the 21 with 43 seconds remaining in the half.
It took Iowa just one play to find the end zone, as Nate Stanley hit Nick Easley with a touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining in the half. Iowa, which had gained just 33 yards of offense before the touchdown throw, took a 7-5 lead to halftime.
Third-Fourth Quarter (Penn State 15, Iowa 7)
Iowa opened the half with the ball, but Penn State forced another three-and-out and took over at its own 42. McSorley rushed for 15 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and Barkley followed with rushes of 25 and 16 yards to move Penn State to the 2, but the Hawkeyes again held strong at the goal line and Davis kicked a 21-yard field goal for an 8-7 lead at 10:42.
The turnover led to a Penn State touchdown drive. Barkley broke free for 44 yards on the first play of the drive, and the Nittany Lions chipped their way down to the 8, where Barkley took it into the end zone on second-and-goal. The score gave the Nittany Lions a 15-7 lead with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter.
The Penn State defense forced another three-and-out, and a 23-yard completion to Hamilton put the Nittany Lions in Iowa territory, but McSorley fumbled under pressure as he attempted to pass, and Jewell recovered at the Iowa 45.
A 20-yard rush by Wadley helped the Hawkeyes reach field goal range, but the 36-yard attempt was blocked byTroy Apkewith 13:30 to go.
Penn State went three-and-out and Gillikin punted 52 yards to the Iowa 26, but Stanley hit Wadley for a 70-yard touchdown pass on third down setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
The two-point conversion was no good, leaving Penn State with a 15-13 lead with 10:02 remaining. Penn State wound the clock down to 2:42, but Iowa scored a go-ahead touchdown after covering 80 yards on three plays in in one minute. That was all McSorley and company needed as they pulled off the dramatic comeback.
PSU - 1:01 - FG - Tyler Davis19 yd Field Goal, 3 plays, 66 yards, 5:06, 0-3
PSU - 7:40 - SAF - Shareef Miller3 yd Safety, 0-5
IOWA - 0:37 - TD - Nick Easley 21 yd Pass from Nate Stanley, 1 plays, 21 yards, 0:06, 7-5
IOWA - 10:02 - TD - Akrum Wadley 70 yd Pass from Nate Stanley (2-pt Fail), 3 plays, 74 yards, 1:30, 13-15
IOWA - 1:42 - TD - Akrum Wadley 35 yd Rush (2-pt Fail), 3 plays, 80 yards, 1:00, 19-15
PSU - 0:00 -TD - Juwan Johnson7 yd Pass fromTrace McSorley(2-pt. Fail), 12 plays, 80 yards, 1:42, 19-21
Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium as it hosts Indiana in its "Generations of Greatness" game with a 3:30 p.m. kick televised on BTN.
Single-game tickets for the 2017 Penn State football season presented by PSECU are available for three of the four remaining home games (Indiana, Rutgers, Nebraska). For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2018 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m.