Penn State scored its first touchdown of the game with just over a minute to go, but it was all the Nitany Lions needed in a game that featured little offense. After slogging through much of the day -- and having only a field goal to show for it -- Penn State somehow ripped off an 80-yard touchdown drive with its back against the wall, trailing Illinois 7-3 late in the fourth quarter. Silas Redd punched it in from five yards out, and Penn State had the 10-3 lead with little time left on the clock.
With the way things were going for both teams offensively, there was little chance Illinois was going to be able to drive 83 yards in just over a minute to tie the game. To illustrate this point, here's the Illinois passing stats heading into the final drive:
And yet, Scheelhaase somehow found a way to get a drive going after two shaky plays to start the possession. Seven plays and a minute later, the Illini were in field goal range, and had Derek Dimke a 42-yard field goal attempt for the tie.
Demke's kick had the distance, but hit the right upright as Penn State hung on for the 10-7 win. The kick was the second special teams mistake of the day, the first of which came on a botched hold on what should have been a chip-shot field goal.
The final score in Happy Valley: Penn State 10, Illinois 8.
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries and Illinois blog Hail to the Orange, plus SB Nation Pittsburgh. Here’s this week’s college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news hub for more.