Penn State knocks off Iowa on TD pass with no time left

Dr. Saturday
Penn State running back <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/256698/" data-ylk="slk:Saquon Barkley">Saquon Barkley</a>, right, is unable to stay in bounds as Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, right, is unable to stay in bounds as Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Penn State survived. Somehow.

The Nittany Lions marched into Iowa City on Saturday night and dominated in nearly every statistical category. Yet PSU needed a touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to Juwan Johnson as time expired to beat Iowa, 21-19, in dramatic fashion.


McSorley threw the game-winner, but Penn State was led by Saquon Barkley, who leapt to the top of the Heisman race with a performance for the ages. Every time the junior running back touched the ball was must-see television.



Barkley outgained the Hawkeyes singlehandedly, finishing the night with a whopping 305 yards of offense (358 all-purpose), including 211 and a touchdown on the ground, while Iowa had 273 yards as a team. Barkley made play after play after play, but Iowa stayed within arm’s length all night and was able to take the lead with 1:42 to go on a 35-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley.

The Wadley touchdown, his second of the fourth quarter, gave the Hawkeyes a 19-15 lead. With the faithful at Kinnick going nuts and looking for a win over a top five opponent for the second straight season, Penn State had to go 80 yards for the win and converted two fourth downs in the process.

McSorley was under pressure all night and made a few mistakes along the way, but made every throw he needed to on that final drive. First he hit Saeed Blacknall on fourth and two at the PSU 40. From there he ran for 12, hit Johnson for 18, and found Barkley out of the backfield for 14 to set up a first and goal at the 10 with 15 seconds to go.

Penn State got a few yards on first down but was stuffed on second and third.

That set up the heroics for McSorley, who threw off his back foot and somehow got the ball through traffic into the arms of Johnson for the winning score to keep the Nittany Lions undefeated.


Penn State controlled the action for the first half, but could only muster five points. In fact, PSU trailed at the break 7-5 (PSU got a FG and a safety) after McSorley was intercepted by Iowa LB Josey Jewell after taking a hit as he delivered the ball. On the next play, Iowa QB Nathan Stanley found Nick Easley in the end zone for a 21-yard score.

Penn State scored on its first two possessions of the second half on a Tyler Davis field goal and a Barkley TD run to take a 15-7 lead in the third quarter. And after Iowa forced a McSorley fumble on a sack, Penn State blocked an Iowa field goal try to keep the lead at eight.

Entering the fourth, PSU held a significant edge in yardage but just could not put Iowa away. With 10:02 left in the fourth, the Hawkeyes finally hit a big play when Stanley found Wadley for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown.


Iowa had a chance to tie the score with a two-point conversion, but Stanley’s pass was broken up, allowing PSU to maintain a lead, 15-13.

PSU regained possession and went on a long, methodical drive deep into Iowa territory. Along the way, Barkley made an absurd play, hurdling over an Iowa defender for a PSU third-down conversion.


Penn State went 75 yards and took more than seven minutes off the clock, but Iowa finally got a third down stop with PSU in the red zone. That set up another Davis field goal try, but Iowa came through and blocked Davis’ attempt.

Iowa took over at its own 20 and marched down the field in a flash — three plays, 80 yards — capped off by Wadley’s burst off the left side. But Iowa, now up 19-15 after another failed two-point try, left 1:42 on the clock for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions used every single second.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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