Michigan-PSU highlights, lowlights
UNIVERSITY PARK – Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 43-40 victory over Michigan in four overtimes on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium:
Play of the game: On second-and-10 from the Michigan 37, with no timeouts and 27 seconds left, Christian Hackenberg hit a leaping Allen Robinson up the left sideline for 36 yards to the Wolverines’ 1, setting up the game-tying score (34-34) a play later and forcing the first of four OTs.
Offensive player of the game: Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner completed 15-of-28 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 24 times for another 121 yards.
Defensive player of the game: Penn State defensive end C.J. Olaniyan made eight tackles, including 2.5 sacks, and forced a fumble. He also broke up two passes.
Most telling statistic: A combined five field goals were either missed or blocked – all of them in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Hidden statistic: Penn State converted just 3-of-16 on third down but 2-of-3 on fourth down.
Best run: Gardner seemed to be pinned in, but his elusiveness allowed him to make three Lions (DaQuan Jones, Glenn Carson and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong) miss en route to a 12-yard scramble on third down that produced a first down in the second quarter.
Best pass: Gardner’s 37-yard touchdown to tight end Devin Funchess, perfectly placed, gave the Wolverines a 34-24 lead with 10:28 left.
Worst pass: Gardner threw directly to Lion defensive end Anthony Zettle, whose interception set up the Lions’ second touchdown.
Best catch: See play of the game. But include Brandon Felder reaching over Michigan cornerback Courtney Avery for an incredible catch in the end zone that put the Lions up 21-10 with 7:06 left in the first half.
Catch it, will ya: Michigan’s receivers had first-half drops that hurt the Wolverines’ momentum. Funchess missed a TD in the end zone, and Jehu Chesson dropped a pass that would have extended a possession. Lion tight end Adam Breneman also dropped two passes in the second quarter, one right in his hands, Bill Belton dropped two in the third quarter, and Robinson dropped a ball in the fourth overtime that would have won the game, though it would have been a tough catch.
Hold it, won’t ya: Robinson fumbled an end around in the third OT. Zach Zwinak’s fumble, which Michigan returned for a TD, was his seventh dating back to last year and squandered a 21-10 lead. PSU punt returner Von Walker fumbled in the second quarter but alertly covered it.
Best block: Walker rocked Michigan gunner Dennis Norfleet after the Wolverines’ first punt.
Best tackle: Olaniyan sacked Gardner and forced him to fumble near midfield to blunt a Michigan drive in the second quarter.
Best hit: PSU linebacker Nyeem Wartman drilled Michigan running back Fitzgeral Toussaint in the first quarter.
Best kick: Sam Ficken’s 45-yard field goal – a confidence boost after last week – gave the Lions a 24-20 lead with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
Worst kick: Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons missed from 33 that would have given the Wolverines the victory at the end of the third OT. That trumped Ficken’s miss from 40 earlier in overtime.
Best call: Bill O’Brien deciding to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 16 in the fourth OT.
Worst call: O’Brien went for a fourth-and-1 from the Lions’ 34 with the score tied 7-7 in the first quarter, and Hackenberg’s QB sneak was blown up.
Worst penalty: Wolverines guard Kyle Kalis committed a personal foul in the third quarter, turning a third-and-1 at midfield into a punt.
Best effort: Bill Belton, having replaced Zwinak, carried 27 times for 85 yards, including 3 yards on the key fourth-and-1 in the fourth OT and later scoring the game-winning touchdown.
Unsung hero: Lion defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz was credited with the blocked field goal in the first overtime.