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Michigan-Penn State highlights, lowlights

By Neil Rudel

nrudel@altoonamirror.com

UNIVERSITY PARK – Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 28-16 loss to Michigan on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:

Play of the game: With Michigan leading 14-10 midway through the third quarter, Penn State forced a punt that DeAndre Thompkins fumbled at the Lions’ 9. Three plays later, Michigan scored to go up 21-10.

Offensive player of the game: Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock completed 25-of-38 for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.

Defensive player of the game: Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton made four tackles, including three for loss and two sacks.

Special teams player of the game: After the Lions cut Michigan’s lead to 21-16 in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines’ Jourdan Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the PSU 40, all but sealing the Lions’ fate.

Most telling statistic: The Lions’ first run from scrimmage, by Saquon Barkley, gained 56 yards. Incredibly, on their next 15 runs (not counting quarterback sacks or scrambles), they managed just 5 more yards.

Most deceiving statistic: Michigan was penalized 13 times (for 117) yards to the Lions’ 3-30.

Hidden statistic: The Wolverines dominated time of possession in the second half, 19:10-10:50.

Best run: Lewis’ kickoff return practically carried the entire Penn State team.

Best pass: On fourth-and-9 from the Michigan 41, Christian Hackenberg rifled a completion over the middle to Chris Godwin, who lugged Wolverine defenders 10 more yards to the UM 3 on the last play of the third quarter.

Worst pass: Hackenberg was way high, missing an open DaeSean Hamilton over the middle early.

Best catch: Michigan’s Jehu Chesson made a diving reception up the sideline and kept at least a toe inbounds to convert a third-and-10 at midfield, the key play on Michigan’s TD drive that put the Wolverines up 14-10 late in the second quarter. Honorable mention would be Saeed Blacknall’s adjustment on a 25-yard TD that put the Lions up 10-7 in the second quarter.

Catch it, will ya: Kyle Carter didn’t come down with a tough catch over the middle in the first quarter, forcing a punt.

Hold it, won’t ya: Thompkins has now fumbled four times on the season. He was replaced by Gregg Garrity.

Best block: Brian Gaia blew open the hole that Barkley turned into a 56-yard gain on the Lions’ first possession.

Best tackle: Brandon Bell’s sack of Rudock forced a fumble late in the third quarter that Bell recovered.

Best hit: No doubt on this one. Torrence Brown shook the stadium with his bone-jarring sack of Rudock in the first quarter.

Best kick: Michigan punter Blake O’Neill boomed a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter to maintain field position.

Worst kick: After the Lions took a 10-7 lead, Joey Julius’ ensuing kickoff was fielded at the Michigan 9, followed by a 21-yard return to jump-start a TD drive.

Worst penalty: Michigan’s defense was called for lining up offsides – four times.

Best call: After a defensive holding penalty gave the Lions a first down at the Michigan 24 in the second quarter, the Wolverines blitzed Hackenberg and Charlton sacked him for a 10-yard loss, eventually forcing a(nother) punt.

Worst call: The third-and-goal run from the 9 after Barkley’s 56-yarder that was snowed under and forced a field goal was apparently an audible. So we’ll go with the third-and-5 run from the Lions’ 24 in the second quarter in which Barkley was dumped for a 2-yard loss.

Best effort: Godwin has made more yards after the catch by dragging defenders than any Penn State receiver in memory.

Unsung hero: Michigan safety-running back-punt returner Jabrill Peppers made three tackles and broke up three passes. He also rushed five times for 19 yards and returned two punts.

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