UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 7/8 Penn State football team fell to Big Ten foe Illinois, 20-18 in nine overtimes, in a noon contest at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. The nine-overtime game was the first in college football history.
After the sides traded field goals in the first two overtimes, the game would head to the two-point conversion portion of overtime. After the defenses held in the first five rounds, teams would trade rushing conversions in the eighth overtime. Illinois would clinch the walk-off victory when Brandon Peters hit Casey Washington in the back of the end zone.
The Nittany Lions leaned on a bend but don’t break defense in the contest, winning the turnover battle, 3-0. Ten different Penn State athletes recorded at least five tackles in the game, with Ji’Ayir Brown leading the way with a career-high 13 tackles.
Clifford returned to action after missing the second half of Penn State’s game in Iowa two weeks ago, completing 19-of-34 passes with 165 yards and a touchdown. He connected with KeAndre Lambert-Smith on a 42-yard touchdown strike to open the scoring for the Nittany Lions in the first quarter.
Penn State will now turn its attention to a primetime showdown with No. 5 Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Nittany Lion defense made their mark early when Illinois’ opening drive was stopped on a diving interception by linebacker Curtis Jacobs, the first of his career.
Penn State got the passing game going in the final minutes of the first. Sean Clifford connected on back-to-back long strikes to put the Nittany Lions on the board. He first hit Jahan Dotson deep down the right sideline for a 36-yard gain and then found KeAndre Lambert-Smith over the middle for a 42-yard catch-and-run for the touchdown.
The Penn State defense added another turnover in the opening minutes of the second when a Brandon Smith strip-sack was recovered by Dvon Elliies in Illinois’ territory.
They would extend the lead to 10-0 on the ensuing drive on a 35-yard field goal by Jordan Stout.
Illinois would follow with its first points of the day, capping off an 8:20 drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Chase Brown.
The Nittany Lions defense would once again force a turnover early in the third when Nick Warburton and Derrick Tangelo combined for a sack and Tangelo forced a fumble on the hit. Jaquan Brisker recovered the fumble for Penn State’s third takeaway of the game.
The Illini would tie the game in the opening minutes of the fourth on a 37-yard field goal by James McCourt.
The teams traded defensive stops throughout the fourth, sending the game to overtime.
Penn State got the ball first in OT, jumping out in front on a 31-yard field goal by Jordan Stout.
Illinois would answer with a field goal of their own, a 38-yarder by McCourt.
McCourt would once again convert in the opening drive of the second overtime, this time from 22-yards.
Stout matched his counterpart with a 40-yarder, sending the game to two-point conversion triple overtime.
Illinois would clinch the win in the ninth overtime when Brandon Peters hit Casey Washington in the back of the end zone.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and ticket information for the 2021 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.