STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – After a 40-minute delay because of a severe weather threat, the 100th meeting of No. 13 Penn State and Pittsburgh evolved into a game that came down to the fourth quarter Saturday, and the Nittany Lions took a 17-10 victory before a crowd of 108,661 at Beaver Stadium.
Before that, the teams took turns dominating quarters.
The Nittany Lions held a 172-66 total yards advantage in the first quarter and led 7-0. The Panthers outgained their hosts 147-49 in the second quarter and drew into a 10-10 tie. Penn State grabbed a 17-10 lead in the third quarter when it rolled up 123 yards to Pitt’s eight.
The game came down to the fourth quarter, where Pitt chose to go for the field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and saw Alex Kessman’s kick clang off the left upright with just under 5 minutes to play.
The Panthers then got the ball back with 1:59 to play and drove to the Penn State 26, where it looked like the game had ended. But officials ruled a first down on the play and that the clock should have stopped. Officials reset the clock to nine seconds.
But two incompletions, one on a Hail Mary heave into the end zone, ended the game and the NIttany Lions got the win.
Kenny Pickett starred in defeat, completing 35 of 51 pass for 372 yards. He led the Panthers on two drives into Penn State territory in the fourth quarter but came up empty.
A part of the problem for Penn State was that the Nittany Lions had trouble pressuring Pickett. He showed the ability to avoid the sack and get some positive yardage. Shaka Toney came up with a big sack of Pickett on the final drive but Pickett then converted a fourth-and-12 on a 28-yard pass to Taysir Mack.
Defense can’t get off field
The Penn State defense, as it did last week, was not able to get off the field and Pitt managed to run off some lengthy drives. The Panthers finished with a 76-62 edge in offensive plays and nearly a nine-minute advantage in time of possession.
The Nittany Lions did have success stopping the Panthers’ running game, limiting them to 24 yards. But Pickett’s passing game kept the chains moving for Pittsburgh, which managed to go 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions.
Journey Brown proved to be the big gainer for Penn State on the ground, with an 85-yard run in the first quarter contributing to his 109-yard day on 10 carries. Freshman Noah Cain had some good moments, gaining 40 yards in six carries and scoring once. But neither of the Lions’ other two running backs, Ricky Slade and Devyn Ford, ran for double-digit yards.