After a roller coaster turn of events in the first half, Indiana emerged right where they wanted to be entering the third quarter.
With the ball to open the half and trailing just 20-14, IU ran seven plays and gained 15 yards out to their own 44 yard line. The drive stalled out, and with a chance to pin Penn State back deep in their own territory, it was time to punt.
But Indiana head coach Tom Allen didn’t want to give the ball back — and the game changed dramatically in the blink of an eye.
The Hoosiers lined up to go for it on 4th and 1, and were then forced to use a timeout. When play resumed IU was in an unusual punt formation, but a direct snap to tight end Peyton Hendershot for an apparent fake went nowhere.
After the game Allen indicated that the snap was intended to go to the punter for a kick rather than Hendershot.
Penn State took over on downs, and moments later, they seemingly took control of the game.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Penn State running back Journey Brown ran 35 yards to the end zone and the Nittany Lions suddenly led 27-14 early in the third quarter.
From there Indiana would be in catch up mode on the road in front of a massive partisan crowd at Beaver Stadium. And despite a resilient effort, the Hoosiers could never close the gap.
Penn State won the game 34-27 and remains in contention for the College Football Playoff, while Indiana (7-3, 4-3) had their four game Big Ten winning streak snapped.
The questionable fourth down decision was just one of several unforced errors for the Hoosiers as they suffered heartbreak yet again against the Big Ten East division’s power teams.
Indiana wasted no time making mistakes in this one.
After the Hoosier defense forced a three and out to start the game, junior Whop Philyor tried unsuccessfully to handle a bouncing punt. It was ruled on the field that the ball touched Philyor’s leg, and after a review the call was sustained and Penn State took over at the IU 27 yard line.
Five plays later the Nittany Lions found the end zone for a 7-0 lead on a Sean Clifford to Nick Bowers touchdown pass.
Indiana would answer with consecutive long scoring drives sandwiched around a PSU field goal as the Hoosiers claimed a 14-10 first quarter lead. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey found a wide open Ty Fryfogle for a 38 yard score down the middle of the field on a botched coverage by Penn State. Ramsey would run it in from one yard out for IU’s second score.
The Hoosiers struggled all day to contain Clifford on the ground, and his 38 yard run gave PSU the lead back 17-14 as a wild first quarter came to a close.
After forcing a Penn State fumble on a strip sack by James Head, the Hoosiers gave it right back in PSU territory when Philyor lost the ball after receiving helmet to helmet hits from two Penn State players. The hits were never reviewed for targeting.
While Indiana was able to keep the Nittany Lions from scoring after the fumble, Philyor was lost for the game.
Penn State would add a second quarter field goal to set the the halftime margin at 20-14.
Despite falling behind by two scores after the fake punt decision, the Hoosiers kept coming.
But so did the mistakes.
Indiana marched 14 plays and 68 yards down to the Penn State eight yard line, but a Ramsey to Donavan Hale pass was dropped in the end zone and the Hoosiers had to settle for three late in the third quarter.
Another long drive, this time 11 plays and 91 yards, ended with another Ramsey one yard plunge to bring the Hoosiers to within 27-24 with 10:45 left in the game.
Somehow, despite the miscues, the crowd and a formidable No. 9 ranked opponent, No. 24 Indiana was still in it.
But while the Hoosiers couldn’t get out of their own way at times on Saturday, they couldn’t get in the way of Penn State enough down the stretch.
The Nittany Lions controlled the ball for more than nine minutes on an 18 play, 75 yard drive that ended with a Clifford one yard touchdown run and a 34-24 PSU lead with 1:44 remaining in the game.
The Hoosiers would add a field goal in the waning seconds, and then unsuccessfully attempted an onside kick to seal it for Penn State.
See also: Final Stats and highlights
- Ramsey finished the game 31-of-41 for 371 yards and a score to go with 42 rushing yards and two more scores. Four Hoosiers had at least five catches, and Fryfogle led the way with 131 yards.
- Clifford had 71 rushing yards on the afternoon, and Brown added 105 yards on 21 attempts.
- IU running back Stevie Scott was held to 54 yards on 17 carries.
- Indiana will host Michigan next Saturday at 3:30 EST.
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