Lions Claim 24-17 OT Victory against Illinois
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Tight endKyle Carter(Bear, Del.) corralled a 15-yard touchdown reception in overtime and safetyRyan Keiser(Selinsgrove) sealed the game with an end-zone interception, as the Penn State football team defeated Illinois, 24-17, at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions improved to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten, while Illinois fell to 3-5 and 0-4, respectively.
After Illinois erased a 14-point deficit to take a 17-14 lead with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, junior placekickerSam Ficken(Valparaiso, Ind.) sent the game to overtime with a 35-yard field goal with less than a minute to play.
In the overtime frame, freshmanChristian Hackenberg(Palmyra, Va.) connected with Carter on a third-and-11 for the touchdown strike, while Keiser forced an interception on Illinois' possession to secure the Nittany Lion victory. Hackenberg went 20-for-32 on the day with 240 yards and two touchdowns (one rush).
Junior wide receiverAllen Robinson(Southfield, Mich.), who became the first Nittany Lion with a pair of 60-plus reception seasons, eclipsed 2,000 career receiving yards with 165 yards. The Southfield, Mich., native has amassed 2,085 receiving yards during his spectacular career to place him fourth on Penn State's all-time list. With 11 catches, Robinson also moved into fifth place on the program's career receptions list (146).
Running backBill Belton(Sicklerville, N.J.) collected a rushing score and secured career highs in both rushing attempts (36) and yards (201) as he became the Nittany Lions' first 200-yard rusher sinceLarry Johnsonin 2002 (279 yards against Michigan State).
SophomoreJordan Lucas(New Rochelle, N.Y.) collected his second interception of the season on the game's opening drive, while linebackersMike Hull(Canonsburg/13) andGlenn Carson(Manahawkin, N.J./11) posted double-digit tackles.
The Nittany Lions, who played their third overtime game in Beaver Stadium in their last six home contests, out gained Illinois by a 490-411 margin, including a 250-90 advantage on the ground.
Following Lucas' interception, Hackenberg orchestrated a seven-play, 84-yard drive to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead. Facing third-and-four from the Nittany Lion 38-yard line, Robinson converted a screen pass into a 47-yard reception as Penn State moved the ball into Illinois territory. A third-down Illini penalty three plays later gave Penn State a fresh set of downs, and Belton bounced a five-yard run to the end zone with 9:44 remaining in the frame.
Hackenberg's nine-yard touchdown run with 13:13 left in the half doubled the Nittany Lion advantage. Facing second-and-goal, the signal caller escaped the collapsing pocket, juked past an Illini linebacker and dove for the touchdown. The 17-play drive, which was extended with Belton's 14-yard, fourth-down carry, took 7:15, marking the Nittany Lions' longest drive of the season in number of plays and time.
After a Penn State personal foul at the end of the half gave the Illini an untimed down, Taylor Zalewski connected on a 20-yard field goal to cut the Nittany Lion to 14-3.
With 4:47 left in the third quarter, Illinois' Josh Ferguson capped a 13-play, 88 yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-10 game.
Illinois grabbed its first lead of the game with 5:30 left to play. Facing a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line, Nathan Scheelhaase's screen pass to Ferguson went for six as the Illini took a 17-14 lead.
Following Illinois' go-ahead score, the Nittany Lions drove down the field to the opposition's two-yard line, but a Penn State fumble prematurely ended the drive. The Nittany Lions then forced a three-and-out before Ficken connected on a game-tying, 35-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, the Penn State offense took to the field and Hackenberg found Carter with a 15-yard strike to put the Lions up, 24-17. On Illinois' first offensive play, Keiser intercepted Scheelhaase's pass to secure the victory.
The Nittany Lions will return to action Saturday, Nov. 9 when they visit Minnesota for a noon ET kick at TCF Bank Stadium. ESPN2 will televise the contest to a national audience, while the Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com will begin their coverage at 10:30 a.m. ET.