By Jack Ryan
Ryan Lewis intercepted a Trace McSorley pass in the end zone with 1:15 seconds left to seal a 42-39 win for Pitt over Penn State today at Heinz Field.
Penn State, trailing by three points after battling back from a 28-7 deficit, had the chance to tie the game or take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
After converting a 4th-and-16 to continue the drive, McSorley (above) threw a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by Lewis. Pitt ran out the clock from there to win the first meeting between the teams in 16 years.
Pitt started scoring early and often. Starting at their own 1-yard line, the Panthers drove the length of the field on their opening drive and scored on a 1-yard rush from George Aston.
Pitt then took a 14-0 lead on a 7-yard pass from quarterback Nate Peterman to Quadree Henderson. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley answered with a 3-yard run at the end of the first quarter.
Pitt started the second quarter with a 14-7 lead and scored two more touchdowns, the first on a 2-yard pass from Peterman to Scott Orndoff and the second on a 3-yard rush by Aston.
The Nittany Lions managed to get within two touchdowns again before the second half on an 83-yard, eight play scoring drive that ended with a 1-yard run into the end zone by Barkley.
Pitt led 28-14 at the break.
Penn State closed within one touchdown when it stopped Pitt’s second-half opening drive and then scored on a 40-yard pass from Trace McSorley to Barkley. The Panthers responded with a 75-yard, 11-play scoring drive capped by a 1-yard run by Conner that made the score 35-21.
But the Nittany Lions weren’t done yet. Barkley scored his fourth touchdown on a 1-yard rush and then Penn State forced a fumble deep in Pitt’s territory, taking over at the 11-yard line down 35-28.
On 3rd-and-nine, junior linebacker Quintin Wirginis sacked McSorley. Tyler Davis made the 38-yard field goal, pulling Penn State within four points, 35-31.
Henderson swung the momentum back in Pitt’s favor with an 84-yard kickoff return that set up a 12-yard Pitt touchdown off a shovel pass from Peterman to Conner.
But Penn State stayed alive, going 60 yards in 1:30. Barkley scored his fifth touchdown of the day and then the Lions got the two-point conversion to pull within three, 42-39, with 5:00 left.