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Top plays from the Penn State-Appalachian State game

Penn State scores its first touchdown of the season

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley scores the first touchdown of the season during the season opener against Appalachian State at Beaver Stadium.
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Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley scores the first touchdown of the season during the season opener against Appalachian State at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State held on to beat Appalachian State, 45-38, Saturday afternoon in an OT thriller at Beaver Stadium.

Here are some of the top plays of the game:

Amani Oruwariye seals game with INT

Appalachian State was looking to tie it up, but Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye had other ideas. The player with four picks last season leaped up and wrestled the ball away from the intended receiver.

He didn’t bite on the play-action fake and made sure Penn State didn’t have to face a two-point conversion try.

KJ Hamler lights it up

Sure, we only have one highlight above from “The Human Joystick.” (Look at the bottom of this list for one more.) But he made at least two key plays to get Penn State into overtime. After a slight hesitation, Hamler took a return back 52 yards to set Penn State up in great field position. And then he caught the game-tying 15-yard TD pass (above) that pushed the game into OT.

Hamler saved the season for Penn State.

Miles Sanders scores game-winner in OT

Who had the game-winning TD? Well, that would be Saquon Barkley’s replacement — who also had a nasty leap in the first half. Ricky Rahne called Sanders’ number four straight times in OT, which culminated in a four-yard TD to give Penn State the lead after regulation.

Hello, true freshman Ricky Slade

Slade was widely regarded as the top running back in his recruiting class, and James Franklin said earlier this week that he expected to give Slade quite a few touches this season.

The true freshman made the most of them Saturday.

Slade finished with 39 yards and a touchdown on six carries. His highlight, however, was the video you see above — a 27-yard TD run that gave Penn State a two-touchdown lead. That was one of Penn State’s longest plays of the day.

Appalachian State returns kickoff 100 yards for a TD

This was not the debut Penn State special teams coach Phil Galiano hoped for. The Mountaineers’ Darrynton Evans fielded the ball right at the goal line and didn’t need to slow down as two Nittany Lions — safeties Ayron Monroe and John Petrishen — missed their chance for a tackle and watched Evans sprint into the end zone.

That was the Mountaineers’ only touchdown of the first half. It was the first 100-yard kick return Penn State allowed since San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in 2015.

Part 1: Trace McSorley rushes for a TD

We’ll refer to this as Exhibit A when it comes to McSorley having eyes in the back of his head. He’s able to escape pressure in the backfield, then jukes left, finds an opening and plows through a defender for the 12-yard touchdown. Not bad for McSorley, but he was just warming up.

Part II: McSorley rushes for a TD ... again

McSorley enjoyed the first replay so much that he thought he’d re-do it two quarters later. On the first Penn State drive of the second half, the Nittany Lions’ quarterback followed his blocks and rushed right up the middle for a 10-yard TD.

It wasn’t a huge play, but it felt a lot bigger. That gave Penn State the 17-10 lead, and the momentum finally shifted back to PSU’s favor.

Hamler makes another big catch

Early in the fourth quarter, McSorley launched a long ball — and Hamler made sure he was there. The wideout, nicknamed “The Human Joystick,” made a nice-over-the-shoulder catch for a 46-yard completion that set up a short TD run by Sanders.

Hamler’s play was the longest of the day for Penn State. And as a redshirt freshman, there’s a lot more where that came from.