(WHTM) — In a thrilling season opener that saw seven lead changes, Penn State survives 35-31 over Purdue to start the 2022 season.

QB Sean Clifford orchestrated a masterful drive in the final 2:30 of the game, capped off by the game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass to Keyvone Lee with 57 seconds to play.

Penn State wanted to set the tone in its season opener against Purdue, and they established a lot of questions instead in a win marred by plenty of mistakes.

The Nittany Lions entered the 2022 season unranked in the AP Top-25 Poll for the first time since 2016; Penn State won the Big Ten Championship that season behind QB Trace McSorley.

Penn State opened the season on a Thursday night for the first time in program history. But it was familiar territory in some ways as this is the seventh straight year that Penn State has opened Big Ten play on the road, and 12th time in the last 13 years.

How it happened

Penn State stumbled to a slow start to open the game, failing to score at all in the first quarter. Purdue’s Mitchell Fineran scored a 36-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Penn State offense wakes up in the second quarter, Sean Clifford finds transfer WR Mitchell Tinsley on the 12 yard touchdown strike to take a 7-3 lead with 13:09 to play in the first half.

Purdue immediately responds on the very next drive when King Doerue punches in the touchdown from three yards out to retake the 10-7 lead.

From there, momentum seemed to shift towards Penn State. Gov. Mifflin product RB Nick Singleton opened up the run game while Clifford made key completions to TE Brenton Strange and Tinsley. The drive was capped off by a two-yard Clifford keeper for the 14-10 lead.

Just before halftime, Penn State managed to turn 30 seconds into a 67-yard Brenton Strange touchdown reception to extend the first half lead to 21-10.

But in the second half, Purdue had all the momentum. On the opening drive of the third quarter, Doerue rushes for his second touchdown of the game to pull within 21-17. Two drives later, Purdue retakes the lead once against off the Aidan O’Connell to Charlie Jones seven-yard touchdown connection. Purdue leads 24-21 with 1:11 to play in the third.

Penn State answers back for the fifth lead change of the game as Clifford finds KeAndre Lambert-Smith for the 29 yard touchdown.

But the 28-24 lead wouldn’t last for long, under 9 minutes to play in the game Clifford trying to extend the lead overthrew his receiver and was picked off by Purdue’s Chris Jefferson. The play affectionately nicknamed a “Puke Six” as the Boilermaker Safety picks off Clifford and returns it 72 yards for the touchdown and the early season, conditioning vomit celebration. Purdue leads once again 31-28.

Penn State makes one final push with 2:22 left to play in the game. Clifford finds Keyvonne Lee for the 10-yard touchdown with 57 seconds to play in the game to take the 35-31 lead.

Penn State survives a thriller 35-31 over Purdue to start the 2022 season. Penn State is 1-0 to start the 2022 season. Clifford improves to 25-12 as Penn State’s quarterback.

Next Up

Penn State turns its attention to Week 2 and the Nittany Lions home opener against Ohio inside Beaver Stadium on Saturday, September 10.

The home opener will be broadcast live on abc27 at noon. The abc27 Sports team will be live outside of Beaver Stadium pregame for a special preview show from 11:30 a.m. until kickoff on abc27.