College Football

#9 Penn State holds on to defeat #11 Washington in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

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GLENDALE, ARIZ (December 30, 2017) — #9 Penn State took the opening drive 83 yards for a touchdown and never looked back, defeating the #11 Washington Huskies 35-28 in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The Nittany Lions put on an offensive show for the 61,842 in attendance, but Penn State needed three 3rd-down conversions on its final drive to finish the win.

Penn State redshirt Junior quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 342 yards, second most in Penn State bowl history (Christian Hackenburg threw for 371 yards in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.) McSorley completed 32 passes on 41 attempts plus two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, both from deep inside Washington territory, effectively killing two potential scoring drives and keeping the Huskies in the game.

Penn State’s Junior Saquon Barkley contributed 183 yards in total offense; 145 yards on the ground and 38 yards receiving. Leading 21-7 in the second quarter, Barkley broke loose for a 92-yard touchdown run, breaking the Fiesta Bowl record for longest run of 84 yards held by Penn State’s Chafie Fields against Texas in 1997.

The Huskies, on the other hand, did not look like the Pac-12 10-2 team and the 11th-ranked team in the country.

Washington did not allow a pass play longer than 40 yards all season until Penn State scored on a 48-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to DaeShawn Hamilton on the Nittany Lions’ first possession.

The Huskies didn’t give up a run longer than 30 yards all season until Barkley scored on his 92-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Washington had minus three net yards after seven offensive plays, compared to Penn State’s 170 yards on 23 offensive plays.

The Huskies didn’t show life until a roughing the passer penalty netted them 15 yards. The very next play was a 52-yard flea flicker, which allowed Washington quarterback Jake Browning to punch into the end zone from 1-yard out for their first score.

Penn State finished the game with 545 yards of total offense, yet it needed three 3rd-down conversions and the last 47 yards to grind out the win.

After Barkley’s 92-yard touchdown put Penn State up 28-7, Washington answered with a Miles Gaskin touchdown run of 13 yards, cutting the lead to 28-14 at halftime.

The Huskies received the second half kickoff and went 80 yards on 13 plays, scoring on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Browning to Aaron Fuller to get within seven points.

Penn State answered the Huskie touchdown with their own on a 24-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to Hamilton to increase the lead to 14 points.

With time winding down to the midway point of the fourth quarter and staring at a crucial 3rd-and-1 from their own 31, Gaskin broke open for a 69-yard touchdown run. The Huskies bench and its faithful fans believed they still had a chance.

That’s when Penn State converted their most important third-down plays. The Nittany Lions finished the game converting 13 of 17 third downs.

Browning finished the game completing 18-28 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. Gaskin finished the game with 14 carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Fuller caught six passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.

Penn State had three other receivers with greater than 60 yards receiving: Hamilton had five receptions for 110 yards, Juwan Johnson had six receptions for 66 yards, and Mike Gesicki had six receptions for 62 yards.

Washington finishes the year 10-3.

Penn State finishes 11-2. The Nittany Lions are 7-0 in Fiesta Bowl contests.

This is a developing story.