BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Trace McSorley scraped himself off the turf Saturday after hitting a long completion while taking a hit from the Indiana pass rush. It was obvious he didn't feel too well as he bent over for a few seconds trying to make the pain go away before jogging down the field to join his Penn State teammates.
An official approached him and asked, "Do you want to come out?"
McSorley replied, "Hell no."
Two plays later, McSorley threw a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin, launching a comeback from a 10-point deficit and sparking a 31-point explosion in the final 16 minutes that carried the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions to a 45-31 victory over the Hoosiers before 40,678 at Memorial Stadium.
The Lions (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) won their sixth consecutive game despite problems with running the football behind an offensive line that lost two more starters to injuries. Saquon Barkley, the Big Ten's leading rusher, was held to 60 yards on a career-high 33 carries but scored two huge fourth-quarter touchdowns.
McSorley, who sat out for one play in the first quarter to get his left ankle retaped, hung in and completed 16 of 30 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns to Godwin. Eight of his completions were for more than 20 yards, and totaled 268 of those yards. On the down side, he threw his first two interceptions since Sept. 24.
"Obviously Trace is a warrior, always has been, always will be," said tight end Mike Gesicki, who recounted the quarterback's "Hell no" comment with reporters.
"I'm happy for him to come out here and have some success. But also proud of him for being tough, playing through some pain, playing physical, and doing exactly what we needed him to do for us to leave here with a big win."
Coach James Franklin said he implored McSorley twice to take a knee after hits and allow backup Tommy Stevens to replace him, but the redshirt sophomore said he never thought about coming out.
"I'm playing for my brothers. . . . I'm not going to take myself out because I'm a little nicked up or something like that," he said, an ice pack on his left elbow and forearm. "It's football and you've got to grind through some things. These things happen. I'll be fine."
The Hoosiers (5-5, 3-4) led, 24-14, late in the third quarter before Penn State started its rally. Godwin's touchdown catch trimmed the deficit to three, and a 54-yard pass from McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton on a flea-flicker set up a 4-yard run by Barkley that gave the Lions a 28-24 lead early in the fourth.
The Hoosiers regained the lead a little more than a minute later on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Richard Lagow to Nick Westbrook. But Penn State, after an exchange of punts, took the lead for good on Barkley's 2-yard run with 3 minutes, 58 seconds remaining. Two plays earlier, Barkley showed great second effort on a 13-yard run to the 2.
"Their defense was really good," Barkley said. "They were really tough and they tried to take some things away from me. They had a great defensive game plan. But at the end of the day, it was an ugly win, but we got a win, and any win, especially in the Big Ten, is a big win."
With less than 3 minutes remaining and Indiana down to one timeout, coach Kevin Wilson gambled on fourth down from his own 22 and lost when defensive tackle Kevin Givens batted down Lagow's pass. The Lions answered with a 39-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 1:07 to play.
The Hoosiers got the ball back with no timeouts remaining, but linebacker Brandon Bell stripped Lagow on a sack, and defensive end Torrance Brown carried the ball into the end zone from 9 yards out. It was Indiana's fifth turnover of the game, all lost fumbles.
"It was a gutsy win on the road," Franklin said. "I said in the locker room, every one of our wins is different. When you have a young, developing, growing team, that's an important trait, to find different ways to win. That's what this team is doing right now."