Penn State Football

How RB Noah Cain turned the momentum for Penn State in its win over Pitt

Penn State had to be feeling deja vu Saturday afternoon as it hosted Pitt at Beaver Stadium.

Just like last weekend against Buffalo, the Nittany Lions looked like they were in trouble against a team they were heavily favored against. That’s until the momentum shifted in the third quarter. Freshman running back Noah Cain’s entrance into the game sparked the Penn State offense and led the team to a score that gave the Nittany Lions the momentum they needed to defeat Pitt, 17-10.

Let’s look at the drive that helped Penn State win the 100th edition of its rivalry game with the Panthers.

Penn State began the series on its own 12-yard line with 10:39 left on the clock in the third quarter, with Cain in the backfield for the first time in the game, as the fourth running back to see the field. The true freshman ran for 7 yards on two carries in the first three plays of the drive, falling forward to gain yards on both carries.

He followed those carries with a 13-yard reception to give the Nittany Lions a first down on their own 40-yard line. Penn State went away from Cain for two plays, gaining 13 more yards, before going right back to the well. Cain carried the rock two more times on the subsequent plays, again pushing the pile and falling forward for gains of 9 and 7 yards.

Cain saw a break from getting hit for three plays while Penn State picked up 14 more yards and moved the ball down to the Pitt 17-yard line.

The freshman from Florida took over from there. He picked up four yards on a carry before closing out the drive on the next play. On the final play of the series, Cain took a hand-off up the middle, powering through an arm tackle, unfazed, before evading another to leap into the end zone. He finished the drive with 53 of the team’s 88 total yards. The touchdown gave the Nittany Lions a seven-point lead, and ultimately a 17-10 win, in the last game the team has scheduled with its cross-state rival until at least 2030.

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Jon Sauber earned his B.A. in digital and print journalism from Penn State and his M.A. in sports journalism from IUPUI. His previous stops include jobs at The Indianapolis Star, the NCAA, and Rivals.