Hoosiers Upset Nittany Lions in Wild Overtime Finish
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — By reaching the endzone with under two minutes left in the game, Devyn Ford gave Indiana a slimmer of hope.
The Indiana Hoosiers (1-0) defeated the No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions 36-35 in overtime by taking advantage of various Penn State penalties, turnovers and coaching miscues.
With the Nittany Lions on the 14-yardline and leading 21-20 after turning over the Hoosiers, the sophomore running back crossed the goal line untouched. Ford, who tried to stop himself from reaching paydirt, allowed Indiana to get the ball back with ample time to tie the game up.
Head coach James Franklin dispelled any questions about a lack of communication between the coaching staff and players on a play when Indiana seemed to let Penn State score.
“What we wanted to do was get as much as you can and get down,” Franklin said about Ford’s touchdown. “That’s the situation. We covered it.”
Franklin also added as head coach, it is his job to make sure everybody “clearly understands” late game scenarios like Ford’s moving forward.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth related to his own experiences where a coaching staff’s orders may be contrary to typical football strategy. “I’ve been in [Ford’s] shoes in high school once and it’s very hard when you see that endzone open like that,” Freiermuth said.
After kicker Jake Pinegar’s PAT put Penn State up by eight, Indiana drove 75 yards in seven plays just before the end of regulation. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. capped off the drive with a pair of rushing scores, first on a one-yard touchdown and then the subsequent two-point conversion attempt to tie the game at 28.
Penn State kicked off the overtime scoring with a touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Clifford to freshman wide receiver Parker Washington. Down by seven, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. found wide receiver Whop Philyor in the end zone to bring the Hoosiers’ deficit within one.
Rather than opt for a PAT to tie the game, head coach Tom Allen kept his offense on the field for a game-deciding two-point conversion. Penix Jr. scrambled for the pylon and gave Indiana the win on a controversial finish.
While video replays were inconclusive of whether Penix Jr. reached the endzone before going out of bounds, Freiermuth said the game’s final play wasn’t the only one that mattered.
“It just didn’t come down to that one play,” Freiermuth said. “We shot ourselves in the foot way too many times. It’s just disappointing but we have to move on.”
Despite being outgained in yardage 488 to 211, Indiana capitalized on Penn State's three turnovers and various other miscues to secure the overtime victory.
Head coach James Franklin said starting off the season with a Big Ten opponent rather than a typical non-conference foe was no excuse for the Nittany Lions' sloppy performance, which also included ten penalties for 100 yards.
“At the end of the day, this is who we were opening with and we need to be ready and obviously we weren’t tonight based on turnovers and penalties,” Franklin said.
Clifford completed 24 of 35 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, but the quarterback’s running prowess is what kept Penn State’s offense moving. Running back Noah Cain left the game early in the first quarter with an apparent foot injury and given the absence of fellow running back Journey Brown who is out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical condition, Clifford had to step up in the running game.
On 17 rushes, Clifford galloped for a career-best 119 yards, including a 35 yard touchdown. But Clifford said his pair of interceptions were far too costly of turnovers to overcome.
“I was careless with the ball on the two plays. I made two critical errors that I wish I could have back,” Clifford said.
New offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense totaled 35 points on the day but at times looked discombobulated. Clifford brushed off questions about any difficulties transitioning from former offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne’s playbook to Ciarrocca’
“I felt comfortable the whole game,” Clifford said. “It was just a lack of focus on two plays. I felt good.”
Despite 42 straight losses to teams ranked in the top-ten of the AP polls, Indiana’s victory over Penn State was the Hoosiers’ first since 1987 when they beat the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes 31-10. While Franklin credited Indiana for its victory, the head coach called his team’s penalties and turnovers “uncharacteristic.”
“At the end of the day, we didn’t play well enough to win,” Franklin said.
Andrew Destin is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.