Penn State scores 42 unanswered to whip Illinois
Jahan Dotson caught two long touchdown passes and host Penn State ran away from Illinois with 42 unanswered points Saturday in a 56-21 win.
Penn State (4-5) took over after a wild back-and-forth first quarter with touchdown runs by Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee in the second, along with Dotson’s 70-yard touchdown play. Dotson also added a 75-yard score and finished with six catches for 189 yards, adding to his Big Ten-leading receiving yardage total.
Holmes scored two touchdowns as part of his 77 rushing yards, and Lee added 85 rushing yards. Starting quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 285 yards and two scores without an interception.
Newly hired Illinois head coach Bret Bielema, named the new Fighting Illini head coach on a six-year contract earlier in the day, watched the game from a spot on the field away from his soon-to-be players. Offensive coordinator Rod Smith guided the Fighting Illini on Saturday.
The game saw a combined 28 points scored in the first 5 minutes, 10 seconds. Clifford found Dotson near the sideline on the game’s first offensive play, and Dotson made a cut and broke free for a 75-yard touchdown.
Illinois responded with a big play on its first play, but quarterback Isaiah Williams threw an interception to end a good opening drive. On the first play of Penn State’s second possession, Clifford fumbled and the Illini recovered.
Given quality field position, Williams hit Brian Hightower for a touchdown to tie the score at 7. But Lamont Wade took the kickoff from end zone to end zone for a 100-yard touchdown and the Nittany Lions regained the lead, 14-7.
A 64-yard run by Williams set up Illinois for another score, Chase Brown for 12 yards to tie it at 14 with still 9:50 left in the first. Before the quarter ended, Williams flipped a screen pass to Daniel Barker, who rumbled down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown, and Penn State backup quarterback Will Levis faked a pass and ran four yards for a touchdown to make it 21-21.
Then came the touchdowns for Holmes, Lee, Dotson’s second and a Levis’ eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brenton Strange with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Williams threw for 120 yards and ran for 102.
–Field Level Media