Penn State Football

Penn State holds on for 28-21 win over Michigan after cooling off from red-hot start

Penn State might be an imperfect team — but, after Saturday night, it still has a perfect record.

The No. 7 Nittany Lions held on to beat the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines 28-21 at Beaver Stadium, after the offense cooled off after building up an early 21-0 lead.

Penn State scored touchdowns on three of its first five drives. Then managed to score just one more TD in its final eight.

Michigan threatened to tie the game with a little more than two minutes left in regulation but, on fourth-and-goal from the 3, Shea Patterson’s toss over the middle was dropped by sophomore Ronnie Bell in the end zone. And Penn State milked out the clock from there.

PSU played its annual White Out game in front of announced attendance of 110,669, which was the fourth-largest crowd in school history.

With the win, the Nittany Lions improve to 7-0. Michigan is now 5-2.

Player of the game

Penn State WR KJ Hamler: It’s not even close this week. Hamler reeled in six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. When the game was close, and the Nittany Lions started to lose momentum, the redshirt sophomore snagged a streaking 53-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter to give PSU a two-TD cushion.

And when the game was on the line, on third-and-short on the final drive, Hamler ran for the first down — to ice the game.

Hamler caught all but one of his targets, and he accounted for more than half of Penn State’s 182 passing yards.

Play of the game

Michigan WR Ronnie Bell’s drop: With 2:01 left in regulation, Michigan trailed 28-21, and found itself on the Penn State 3-yard line. It needed a touchdown and a PAT to possibly force overtime.

So, on fourth-and-goal, Michigan needed to get in the end zone, or the game was essentially over. QB Shea Patterson dropped back and quickly tossed the ball to wideout Ronnie Bell over the middle — and it hit off his chest. Drop. Incomplete.

Penn State then milked the clock to win the game.

Stat of the game

42: That’s the number of total offensive yards Penn State had for a period of 24:07, from the time between KJ Hamler’s second-quarter TD until his fourth-quarter TD.

The offense grew stagnant, Mr. Consistent in Noah Cain saw limited carries, and the Nittany Lions looked much like they did against Purdue — a hot start that cooled off in the second quarter.

Penn State’s three-TD lead became a one-score cushion. The Nittany Lions were fortunate to hold on.

New 2021 commitment

2021 3-star OL: Nate Bruce, a three-star offensive guard out of Harrisburg, made his commitment to the Nittany Lions official about 90 minutes before kickoff Saturday night.

The 6-foot-4 and 320-pound high school junior wrote a brief column for his hometown outlet, PennLive, which was posted shortly after 6 p.m. In the post, he thanked everyone who helped get him to this point before writing, “ I am officially announcing that I am 100-percent committed to Penn State University!”

Bruce is the No. 26 OG in the nation, according to 247 Sports, and the No. 506 prospect nationally. Penn State was his biggest offer; he also had one from the likes of Rutgers.

He is the second commit of the 2021 class.

Up next

at Michigan State: No. 7 Penn State (7-0) will take on the unranked Michigan State Spartans (4-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.

Sparty, who was on bye this week, has had James Franklin’s number the last few years. Franklin is 1-4 against Michigan State, with back-to-back losses in spite of being back-to-back double-digit favorites.

The Spartans haven’t exactly lost to cupcakes this season, either. Their three losses came against three ranked teams in Ohio State, Wisconsin and Arizona State.

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Josh Moyer earned his B.A. in journalism from Penn State and his M.S. from Columbia. He’s been involved in sports and news writing for nearly 20 years. He counts the best athlete he’s ever seen as Tecmo Super Bowl’s Bo Jackson.