STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – After coming oh-so-close to becoming the first college football team to defeat a ranked opponent on the road for the second time, Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield took a deep breath.
Eleven years to the day after the Mountaineers, an FCS team then, upset No. 5 Michigan, and two years after they lost in overtime at No. 9 Tennessee, the visitors almost made more history but lost in overtime, 45-38, to 10th-ranked Penn State.
Cornerback Amani Oruwariye ended App State's only overtime drive with an end-zone interception of quarterback Zac Thomas, who was trying to hit Corey Sutton.
"The play we called at the end, we had hit a couple of times, actually hit a touchdown on the same play," Satterfield said. "They dropped off in a zone and the corner made an unbelievable play. He reached right over top of Corey and made a great interception. That's football. You have to be able to make plays and their guy made a play.
"It's like Tennessee two years ago, lost in overtime again in a very similar situation. It's extremely difficult for a team. I mentioned this earlier in the week – there's not one player on their roster that we recruited, and not one player on our roster that they recruited, for reasons being that they're in the Big Ten and Power 5 and we're in the Sun Belt.
"The way our guys fought and played and clawed and went toe-to-toe with them, I'm extremely proud of our guys."
The Beaver Stadium crowd of 105,232 appreciated the effort, giving the Mountaineers an ovation as they left the field.
Miles Sanders said he didn't want to make Penn State's season-opening game about him.
Taking over as the Nittany Lions' first-team running back after sitting behind Saquon Barkley for two years, Sanders rushed 19 times for 91 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner in overtime that helped the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions to a 45-38 win over Appalachian State.
Head coach James Franklin said after the game that Sanders told him, "I've waited two years for this." Asked about what Franklin said, Sanders preferred to spread the praise around
"It makes it very special but I really don't want to make this about me," he said. "I want to thank the O-line, our offense, the defense, our whole team, our fans, and give kudos to App State. They played a hell of a game. It was a special moment though. We got a W when it counted."
Penn State had the first possession of overtime and Sanders ran the ball on all four plays for gains of 4, 13, 4 and 4 yards, the final carry up the middle for the touchdown.
Franklin was happy to see Sanders play a solid game.
"The lesson in life … is battle and fight and earn a job, overcome adversity," he said. "Miles is a great example of that. He's sitting behind Saquon Barkley, maybe the best running back on the planet, and he just kept grinding, kept working, kept staying positive. He's going to have a huge year for us."
The Nittany Lions played nine true freshmen – defensive end Nick Tarburton (Pennridge), linebackers Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa, defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher, wide receiver Jahan Dotson, running back Ricky Slade, tight end Pat Freiermuth and kickers Jake Pinegar and Rafael Checa.
The NCAA has relaxed redshirt rules, allowing players to compete in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility. Last year, under the old rules, the Lions played just three true freshmen the entire season – defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, and defensive backs Lamont Wade and Tariq Castro-Fields.
Franklin said redshirt junior defensive tackle Kevin Givens, who was expected to start, was suspended for a violation of team rules and did not dress for the game.