Heartbreak in Illinois: Nittany Lions fall in fourth quarter, 23-21

Heartbreak in Illinois: Nittany Lions fall in fourth quarter, 23-21

A close game ended in heartbreak for the Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-2) this past Saturday as they took on the Northwestern Wildcats (7-2, 3-2) in Evanston, Ill. After coming back from a substantial point deficit in the first half, Penn State held a one point lead over Northwestern before falling prey to Northwestern kicker Jack Mitchell’s (San Diego, Calif.) field goal in the final seconds of the game.

However, this game is not without merit. Numerous Lions stepped up to the plate in this fierce competition and proved their athleticism and skill at Ryan Field. Freshman favorite Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) ran for 120 yards and notched two key touchdowns against the Wildcats.

One of the most shocking plays of the game was when wide receiver Geno Lewis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) scooped up the ball and chucked a Hail Mary pass down the field to DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.), who cinched a Nittany Lion touchdown.

Tyler Davis (St. Charles, Ill.) was the kicker for this game. Former kicker Joey Julius (Hummelstown, Pa.) did not travel to Evanston with the team this weekend.

Although the Nittany Lion offense struggled with clock management and play calling, the Penn State defense did its best to threaten the Wildcats. Senior standout Carl Nassib (West Chester, Pa.) took out Northwestern starting quarterback Clayton Thorson (Wheaton, Ill.) with a fierce sack.

“We weren’t able to run the ball consistently in the first half, got a little bit more aggressive which I think helped us, but at the end we weren’t able to play winning football,” commented Head Coach James Franklin in his post-game press conference.

Ever-positive Franklin did compliment his squad on their relentless competitive spirit on Saturday: “Overall these guys did a good job of saying ‘We’re not going to give up the big play.’”

“We gotta regroup… get our bodies right, get our heads right, finish strong,” said Penn State Quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) of the Lions’ upcoming bye week.

Geno Lewis said it best this week, “I was always taught that it’s not about the wins, it’s about how you deal with the losses…We got a bye week coming up… We gotta come together as a family, as a team.”

The Nittany Lions will return to Beaver Stadium in two weeks for the ultimate showdown: the White Out game against the University of Michigan. Although a kickoff time has yet to be released, Penn State fans can expect a well-rested pride of Lions hungry for a victory.