The Penn State Nittany Lions met up with the Pittsburgh Panthers for the first time since 2000 as they renewed their historic rivalry. The Panthers jumped out to a big lead over their in-state rivals but it ended being a great restart to the rivalry.
The running game for the Panthers was huge as they racked up over 400 yards on the ground to pull out the win over the Nittany Lions. But quarterback Trace McSorley proved he would be just fine for Penn State going forward.
Pitt running back James Conner showed he was going to be just as impressive in his second game back from MCL surgery and cancer treatment as he set up the Panthers inside the redzone. The tough run set up fullback George Aston with a one-yard dive.
On the Nittany Lions’ first drive of the game, quarterback Trace McSorley looked for a man down the field. However, he got hit by Mike Caprara and forced a fumble, which was recovered by the Panthers.
The Panthers took advantage of that turnover as quarterback Nick Peterman connected with Quadree Henderson from seven yards out to put them up 14-0 early in the game. Penn State finally got something going as running back Saquon Barkley scored from three yards out after a big punt return by John Reid.
The Panthers didn’t allow that play to shake them, however, as they continued to build their lead before halftime. Peterman connected with Scott Orndoff for a touchdown which was followed by another Aston run from three yards out.
The Nittany Lions didn’t give up in the first half as they began driving down the field with just minutes left. A tip-drill interception set the team up to make the score 28-14 after another Barkley touchdown.
Penn State got the ball to start the second half and McSorley finally got something going through the air when he found Barkley on a scat route. The sophomore running back took off 40 yards for his third score of the game, making the score 28-21.
The Panthers got things going on offense again as they drove down the field, allowing Conner to get into the endzone once again, making the score 35-21. The Pitt defense came up big on the next drive as they forced a Saquon Barkley fumble.
The took that momentum and continued to dominate on the next drive after Peterman took off for 30 yards on a third and nine. They couldn’t take advantage of that play, though, as they missed a field goal.
The Penn State Nittany Lions then made a big play on their next drive as McSorley found DeAndre Thompkins deep down the field. He snagged the ball with one hand and set up Barkley with his fourth score of the game.
The Nittany Lions cut further into the lead with a field goal, making the score 35-31 after they trailed 28-7 in the first half. However, Henderson made a big play for the Panthers on the kickoff, returning the ball 84 yards down inside the redzone and setting up another Conner touchdown.
The Nittany Lions did not say die as they drove down the field and McSorley found Barkley, who scampered into the endzone for his fifth score of the game. The two-point conversion was good, but the final score ended up being 42-39 for the Panthers.
Barkley finished the game with 130 total yards and five touchdowns. For Pitt, James Conner had 117 yards on the ground with two total touchdowns.
Penn State next takes on Temple in another in-state rivalry, while Pitt takes on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
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