Fast start helps Penn State beat Huskies in Fi­esta Bowl

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NEWS - BY JOHN MAR­SHALL

GLEN­DALE, Ariz. — Con­vert­ing on third downs had been a sore spot for Penn State, so coach James Franklin made it a point of em­pha­sis in spring prac­tices and pre­sea­son camp.

The Nit­tany Li­ons kept work­ing at it dur­ing the sea­son and kept get­ting bet­ter, peak­ing at the per­fect time.

Trace McSor­ley threw for 342 yards — with both of his touch­down passes to DaeSean Hamil­ton on third-down plays — as No. 9 Penn State out­lasted No. 12 Washington 35-28 in the Fi­esta Bowl on Satur­day.

“Our coaches did a fan­tas­tic job, and the O-line pro­tected and the re­ceivers made plays,” Franklin said. “We were very ef­fi­cient. We ex­e­cuted.”

Penn State (11-2) had its way with Washington’s vaunted de­fense early, build­ing a 28-7 lead by the se­cond quar­ter. The Huskies (10-3) woke up Satur­day night’s Or­ange Bowl, with No. 6 Wis­con­sin and No. 11 Mi­ami com­pet­ing, was not com­plete at press time. Please visit times­free press.com for cov­er­age. from an of­fen­sive slum­ber with two touch­downs and pulled to 35-28 on Myles Gask­ins’ 69-yard touch­down run in the fourth quar­ter.

An in­abil­ity to stop Penn State on third down kept Washington from get­ting any closer.

The Nit­tany Li­ons con­verted three third downs on a fi­nal clock-wind­ing drive and were 13for-17 over­all. Washington had a fi­nal shot with a des­per­a­tion play of mul­ti­ple lat­er­als and passes, but a fi­nal lat­eral by Dante Pet­tiswas in­ter­cepted af­ter he passed up a chance to step out of bounds to set up one more play.

“I think a lot of it was McSor­ley,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s buy­ing time, get­ting out of there. And when we did get a lit­tle pres­sure on him, he stepped up nicely and took off and ran or bought time.”

Washington had the na­tion’s top rush­ing de­fense dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, al­low­ing an av­er­age of 92 yards per game, but Saquon Barkley matched that on one run in the se­cond quar­ter. Barkley had 137 of the Nit­tany Li­ons’ 203 yards on the ground and two touch­downs in what might have been his fi­nal col­lege game as he weighs the NFL draft.

The Huskies gave up a sea­son-high 545 to­tal yards. The Nit­tany Li­ons had 367 yards by half­time against a de­fense that had al­lowed an av­er­age of 277.4 yards per game dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“They had us on our heels most of the night,” Petersen said.

Said line­backer Te­vis Bartlett: “We came out flat in the first half.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Penn State quar­ter­back Trace McSor­ley (9) throws against Washington dur­ing the se­cond half of the Fi­esta Bowl on Satur­day in Glen­dale, Ariz. Penn State de­feated Washington 32-28.

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