Penn State Shocks Iowa on Final Play

Story posted September 24, 2017 in CommRadio by Brian McLaughlin

IOWA CITY, Iowa – As time expired in the fourth quarter, Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown Saturday night to give No. 4 Penn State a narrow 21-19 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

With the win Penn State improved to 4-0 on the season. Saquon Barkley led the way for the Nittany Lions, setting a career high in rushing yards with 211, as well as breaking Penn State’s single game record for all-purpose yards with 358.

“I cannot imagine there’s a better player in all of college football” head coach James Franklin said when asked about Barkley postgame.

Barkley is now the leader in the Big Ten in rushing and receiving after his career night.

A dominant first half for Penn State did not lead to great results on the score board. Penn State had great field position all night but was unable to punch the ball into the end zone often to extend any lead over the Hawkeyes.

The only offensive points in the first half for Penn State came on a Tyler Davis 19-yard field goal despite amassing over 200 yards of offense.

Saquon Barkley had 63 yards on the ground in the first half on 10 carries. Barkley was also the leading receiver for the Nittany Lions in the first half with seven catches for 47 yards.

Penn State’s defense bailed out the offense, limiting the Hawkeyes to only 54 yards in the first half as well as getting on the scoreboard themselves.

“Our defense played unbelievably well and probably hasn’t been given enough credit for how well they’ve played this year” Franklin said.

After a Blake Gillikin punt was downed at the 1 yard line, the defense went to work. Shareef Miller wrapped up Akrum Wadley in the end zone and slammed him to the turf for a Penn State safety. This gave Penn State an unorthodox 5-0 lead with 7:40 to go in the second quarter.

Penn State was driving late in the half when McSorley was hit in the pocket while targeting Mike Gesicki. The throw was intercepted by Josey Jewell and returned 33 yards to the Penn State 21 yard line.

On Iowa’s first play in Penn State territory in the first half, quarterback Nathan Stanley found Nick Easley on a 21-yard touchdown. This gave Iowa a 7-5 lead into the locker room at the half.

Iowa received the ball to start the second half but went nowhere and was forced to punt.

A steady diet of Saquon Barkley brought the ball inside the ten for the Nittany Lions. The drive stalled from there and Tyler Davis hit his second field goal of the night to give Penn State an 8-7 lead.

Iowa appeared to get a drive rolling crossing mid-field before Marcus Allen forced a fumble, recovered by Grant Haley.

Barkley took the ball breaking tackles and scrambling down the field. Getting the ball at the 8 yard line Barkley was able to turn the corner and score Penn State’s first touchdown of the day. The extra point from Davis was good and Penn State lead 15-7.

Both teams went back and forth for the next few minutes, including an Iowa field goal that was blocked by Troy Apke.

But Iowa got the ball back and on their third play of the drive Akrum Wadley went 70 yards on a pass play to bring Iowa within two. The two-point conversion try failed. allowing Penn State to hold a slim 15-13 lead.

Penn State took over the ball and went on a seven minute, 16 play, 75-yard drive. On fourth and eight Tyler Davis had his own field goal blocked for the second miss of the night.

Iowa took over with two minutes and 49 seconds remaining but it only took them 50 seconds to drive down the field and score a touchdown on their most effective scoring drive of the night.

That’s when McSorley got his chance. With 1:42 remaining and Penn State with their backs against the wall, McSorley went to work finding Juwan Johnson among others twice throughout the drive to get Penn State down to the Iowa seven.

On fourth and goal with only four seconds on the clock, McSorley took the snap and saw Johnson break over the middle. On arguably his best pass all night, McSorley split three defenders and dropped a dime into Juwan Johnson’s hands as time expired.

“He’s one of the most mentally and physically tough players I’ve ever been around” Franklin said of McSorley.

Next week Penn State returns home to take on the Indiana Hoosiers, hoping to remain undefeated behind McSorley’s guts and Barkley’s legs.

Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email