The “rivalry” has come to an end.
Penn State held on for the win Saturday afternoon, beating Pitt 17-10 in the 100th meeting between the two Keystone State teams. Like last week, the double-digit favorite Nittany Lions started off slow — they were tied at halftime 10-10 this week — but still came away with the victory in the end.
Pitt threatened toward the end, taking the ball to Penn State’s 1-yard line with less than 5 minutes left in the game. But Pat Narduzzi surprised fans by deciding to settle for the field goal — and kicker Alex Kessman missed the 19-yard attempt after hitting the upright.
Sean Clifford finished 13-of-28 passing for 204 yards. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett was 35-of-51 for 372 yards.
Kickoff was delayed 35 minutes due to the threat of severe weather. But the Nittany Lions didn’t much mind the end result. PSU is now 3-0 on the season; Pitt is 1-2.
Players of the game
Penn State RBs Journey Brown and Noah Cain:Yes, the defense played well and LB Micah Parsons was everywhere Saturday — and both deserve a shoutout. (Consider it done.) But Brown and Cain really made this running game go, and there’s no telling how many points the Nittany Lions would’ve put on the board without them.
Brown finished with 102 yards on seven carries, while Cain was a one-man wrecking crew during arguably the most important drive of the game.
We’ll get to both backs, but let’s start with Brown. His straight-line speed was on display Saturday, as he sprinted 85 yards on third-and-9 in the first half to set up PSU’s first touchdown. And PSU’s second TD? Cain was virtually unstoppable in the third quarter.
On a 13-play, 88-yard TD drive, Cain had seven touches. He had six carries for 40 yards, another catch for 13 yards — and the score. That gave Penn State a 17-10 lead, and it was a lead PSU wouldn’t relinquish.
Both backs should’ve earned themselves some extra carries against Maryland in two weeks.
Play of the game
RB Journey Brown’s 85-yard run:The redshirt sophomore put on the jets early Saturday afternoon and might’ve just solidified his spot as the Nittany Lions’ top back. With Penn State in a precarious position, deep in its own territory on the 3-yard line, Brown burst up the middle — and likely would’ve settled for a handful of yards to give his team some breathing room on third-and-9.
Instead, Brown spotted some daylight, flipped on the speed and rumbled 17 yards until he bounced outside and sprinted up the right sideline. Sure, he was eventually caught from behind — but that was 85 yards later.
Brown’s play changed what would’ve almost certainly been a dangerous punt into a sure touchdown. Three plays after Brown’s run, which took PSU to the Pitt 12, the Nittany Lions found the end zone.
It was the second-longest non-scoring run in Penn State history.
Stat of the game
8: That was the total number of yards Pitt came away with in the third quarter, during a big shift in the momentum Saturday.
The Panthers ran 12 plays in the third quarter, but they were able to only record 5 passing yards and 3 rushing yards. Penn State’s defense was on-point.
PSU took a 17-10 lead in the third quarter. And the Nittany Lions never gave up the advantage.
New school record
Longest-ever field goal:Virginia Tech made a big mistake this offseason.
Jordan Stout, a walk-on kicker with the Hokies, transferred to Penn State earlier this year — and he’s made an immediate impact in Happy Valley on scholarship. Not only did he enter Saturday’s game leading the nation with 20 touchbacks, but the kicker also nailed a school-record 57-yard field goal Saturday at the end of the first half against Pitt.
Stout’s field goal was 2 yards longer than the next-longest kick in school history, a 55-yarder that was made by Chris Bahr three times in 1975.
So, yeah, not a bad performance by a kicker making his third career start for PSU.
Bye week: Penn State will take a week off for its first bye week next week, before traveling to College Park, Md., for the Friday night game Sept. 27 against Maryland.
The Terps also have a bye week next week.
The PSU-UMD game will air on FS1. The Terps were ranked No. 21 in last week’s AP Poll, but will likely drop out of the top 25 following a loss to Temple.