Penn State Gets Destroyed In Final Regular Season Game
EAST LANCING, Mi. – The No. 5 Michigan State Spartans (11-1, 7-1 BIG) advanced to the Big Ten Championship after blowing out the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-4 B1G) 55-16 Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans got on the board first when quarterback Connor Cook completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to R.J. Shelton for the only score in the first quarter. After a missed extra point, the Spartans led the Nittany Lions 6-0.
The Penn State offense worked its way to the Michigan State one-yard line to start the second quarter, but could not move that final yard for a touchdown. The offense turned to kicker Tyler Davis to put the team on the board with a 19-yard field goal.
When asked about Penn State’s struggles in the red zone, Hackenberg responded with, “It’s been tough and we got to get better.”
The Michigan State offense marched right down the field to the Penn State six-yard line. Gerald Holmes ran the ball into the end zone with ease to tack on another seven points for the Spartans.
Penn State quickly pushed the ball down to the Michigan State 33-yard line, but tight end Kyle Carter fumbled a ten-yard pass from quarterback Christian Hackenberg. This resulted in a 77-yard defensive touchdown run by Demetrious Cox to extend the Spartan’s lead to 20-3.
“Offensively, we were able to move the ball, but we made critical errors,” head coach James Franklin said. “Turnovers early, turnovers late…those things are going to make it very, very difficult to be successful.”
Before the half, Penn State was able to get its first touchdown of the game when Hackenberg found wide receiver Chris Godwin in the end zone for an eight-yard completion, bringing the Nittany Lions within ten points.
“It feels good to be able to make plays for my team, but it doesn’t feel as good when we lose,” Godwin said.
Michigan State started to pull away from Penn State at the beginning of the third quarter when Cook completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Aaron Burbridge. After a quick three and out by the Penn State offense, Michigan State added another seven points after a touchdown reception by Josiah Price. This put the Spartans up 34-10 over the Nittany Lions.
The final glimpse of hope for the Penn State offense came at the start of the fourth quarter when Hackenberg hit Godwin for a five-yard touchdown reception to make the score 34-16. The offense attempted a two-point conversion, but was unsuccessful when Hackenberg was unable to hit a wide-open Saeed Blacknall in the corner of the end zone.
“Football is a game of momentum, when we have it we need to take advantage of it. When we don’t, we need to get it back,” linebacker Troy Reeder said.
After another Spartan touchdown, Hackenberg’s pass was deflected and intercepted by Malik McDowell, who returned it for a 13-yard touchdown.
With about ten minutes remaining in the game, Michigan State drove the nail in the coffin when 296-pound center Jack Allen rushed for a nine-yard touchdown to make the score 55-16.
“We improved on our conference record from last year, but the upper-tiered teams in this conference, we got to close the gap on them,” Franklin said.
This was the final game of Penn State’s regular season. Next up for the Nittany Lions will be a bowl game that has yet to be determined.
Mandy Bell is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org.