Illinois outlasts No. 7 Penn State in 9OT 20-18, longest game in FBS history

Nittany Nation

Penn State wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith (13) scores on a first-quarter touchdown pass in front of Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa.on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) — In the longest game in FBS history, Illinois outlasts Penn State in nine overtime periods, 20-18. The Nittany Lions fall to 5-2 on the season.

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Despite two weeks of quarterback controversy, Sean Clifford did start the game against Illinois.

After Clifford was injured in the first half against Iowa on Oct. 9, Penn State head coach James Franklin was unable to name a starting quarterback throughout the two weeks of practice. Minutes before game time it was announced Clifford had recovered enough from an undisclosed injury to play against Illinois.

Penn State’s offense struggled to do anything with Clifford back under center, however. He threw for 165 yards on 19-for-34 completions, one touchdown, and no interceptions.

Still seeming to feel the effects of his injury, Clifford was slow to get up on a late hit out of the pocket in the third quarter. The QB moved in the pocket, but his signature mobility was nonexistent with -28 yards on five keeps.

Illinois dominated time of possession with a run game that drained the clock. The Illini rushed for 357 yards, while only passing for 38 yards on eight catches.

How they scored

Penn State got on the board first at the very end of the first quarter off a Clifford to KeAndre Lambert-Smith 42-yard touchdown reception. The Nittany Lions would lead 7-0 with nine seconds to play in the first.

PSU extended the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a 35-yard field goal from Jordan Stout.

Illinois would continue to put pressure on the Penn State defense in the second quarter before Chase Brown cashed in a one-yard touchdown run with 2:52 to play in the first half.

Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter. In the fourth, a terrible drive for the Illini, littered with penalties and two touchdowns called back, kicker James McCourt chipped in a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 with 11:49 to play. Regulation ended at a 10-10 tie.

Nine overtime periods

In the first overtime period, Stout hit a 31-yard field goal after Clifford was tackled for a loss on third down. In the Illinois first drive of overtime, Jaquan Brisker almost picked off Artur Sitkowski’s third-down pass, but it was dropped. McCourt then made the 39-yard field goal to tie things back up at 13-13 to send it to a second overtime.

In the second overtime, both teams traded field goals again. McCourt made a 22-yard field goal, while Stout made a 40-yard FG after a false start backed PSU up 5 yards.

In the third overtime period and on, both teams have to trade two-point conversion tries. Both teams could not covert in the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh overtime periods.

In the 8th overtime (which no FBS game had ever reached this point), Illinois scored on a pass to Isaiah Williams. Penn State responded with a rush up the middle from Noah Cain to tie the game at 18-18.

In the 9th overtime, Penn State could not convert, but Casey Washington caught the conversion attempt in the endzone on his own sideline to win the game for the Illini 20-18.

Up next for the Nittany Lions is a road game against No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday, Oct. 30. The kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on abc27. Highlights and reactions will follow on abc27 News at 11.

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