The Penn State football team fell to the Michigan State Spartans Saturday evening at Spartan Stadium, 30-27.
The first 10 minutes of the game belonged to the Spartans, who put together two impressive touchdown drives.
The initial drive of the game featured successful plays through the air and on the ground with the Spartans and the Penn State defense didn’t have an answer early. Redshirt sophomore Payton Thorne created the game’s first explosive play by stepping up and finding tight end Maliq Carr for a 40-yard gain that took his offense into Penn State territory.
The unit continued its drive until junior running back Kenneth Walker III punched it in for a two-yard touchdown to give Michigan State a 7-0 lead.
The Spartans then got on the board again, this time on a 99-yard drive after the Nittany Lions punted from near midfield on fourth-and-inches. Thorne ended the drive with a rollout and passing touchdown to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tre Mosley for a nine-yard touchdown.
Penn State responded to the 14-0 deficit with a run of its own. The Nittany Lions put together two touchdown drives that were led by senior wide receiver Jahan Dotson who has carried the offense all year. He caught a 27-yard touchdown and then a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14. Both teams went on to attempt field goals before the half with Spartan kicker Matt Coghlin making his and Penn State kicker Jordan Stout missing to make it a 17-14 game with Michigan State out in front.
The Nittany Lions answered with a touchdown early in the second half when redshirt sophomore Daequan Hardy picked Thorne off and ran it back for a 17-yard touchdown and a 20-17 lead following a missed extra point.
Michigan State was able to earn a touchdown following that and then closed out the victory to win 30-27.
Player of the game
Senior wide receiver Jahan Dotson: The Penn State offense was able to take advantage of a weak Michigan State secondary and did so in large part because of the same weapon that carried the unit all year. Dotson was dynamic throughout the game and was one of the primary reasons the offense had success Saturday evening in East Lansing. He opened his performance by making difficult catches on back-to-back plays.
The first was a ball that went through the defensive backs hands, and the second was a lofted ball that nearly led him out of bounds. The senior wide receiver maintained his balance and scored his first touchdown of the game. He didn’t do much to slow down from there, finishing with 8 receptions for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Stat of the game
112: That’s how many receiving yards Penn State got from players not named Jahan Dotson in Saturday’s game prior to garbage time with less than five minutes left when the team was desperate, two fewer than he had by himself in that span. The Nittany Lions have ridden the senior wide receiver as far as he can possibly take them this year on offense and Saturday was more of the same. The team has plenty of talent on the roster but has been unable to get players outside of Dotson involved enough to get them into a rhythm. The receivers also haven’t exactly shown the consistency needed to make them reliable targets in times of need.
TBD: Penn State’s next game will be a bowl appearance sometime in the next month or so. The 7-5 Nittany Lions have been projected to a litany bowls in recent weeks, including the Outback Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, the Music City Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl.
The loss could alter the team’s ultimate landing spot, but the Nittany Lions secured bowl eligibility when they defeated Maryland earlier in November. Now its simply about determining where exactly the team will spend its last game of the season.