Penn State Football

No. 7 Penn State trails Michigan State at halftime

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley scores a touchdown during a game against Michigan State Saturday, Nov 26, 2016 at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley scores a touchdown during a game against Michigan State Saturday, Nov 26, 2016 at Beaver Stadium. psheehan@centredaily.com

Halfway through the first quarter, thousands of fans inside Beaver Stadium went crazy.

The ending wasn't broadcasted at the stadium, and there was no announcement, but everyone knew that Ohio State defeated Michigan in overtime. It became known that if Penn State were to beat Michigan State, it'd win the Big Ten East division and go to the conference championship game.

But the Nittany Lions still have to take care of business, and outside of the Ohio State news, the first half wasn't kind to them.

Michigan State holds a 12-10 halftime lead over No. 7 Penn State (9-2, 7-1) on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

The Spartans (3-8, 1-7) opened the scoring after a Penn State three-and-out. Michigan State strung together a 12-play, 76-yard drive that ended in a 28-yard Michael Geiger field goal.

The Nittany Lions punted after three plays yet again on the ensuing series, and Sparty made them pay with a second field goal. Geiger drilled a 36-yarder to put Michigan State up 6-0 with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter.

Penn State's offense finally woke up a bit and responded. Highlighted by a 19-yard completion to Mike Gesicki and an 18-yard hookup with Chris Godwin, Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley guided his offense down the field, deep into Michigan State territory.

However, on 3rd-and-4 on Michigan State's 20-yard line, McSorley's keeper gained only three, and the Nittany Lions had to settle for a field goal of their own. Redshirt junior Tyler Davis converted his 35-yard attempt with 13:11 left in the second quarter.

Michigan State did tack on another field goal on its next drive, this time from 33 yards out by Geiger. It marked the third-straight series the Spartans scored.

They led 9-3 with 7:17 remaining until halftime.

But Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead started really pushing the right buttons. Moorhead's playcalling, coupled with the Nittany Lions' ability to execute, generated a masterful touchdown drive before halftime.

McSorley spread the ball around, hitting four different targets — Godwin (4 yards), DaeSean Hamilton (16), Saeed Blacknall (16) and DeAndre Thompkins (25). The quarterback also ran for a first down.

It was McSorley's connection with Blacknall that set up a 1-yard, awe-inducing leaping touchdown by Saquon Barkley with 2:14 remaining in the half.

However, Michigan State put together a drive of its own before heading to the locker room. The Spartans put together a 14-play, 72-yard drive, finishing it off with another Geiger field goal. The 21-yarder gave Michigan State its 12-10 lead with 10 seconds to go in the first half.

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