McSorley's gritty play keeps No. 12 Penn St. on track
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Trace McSorley took a bunch of big hits. He got up every time.
Same for No. 12 Penn State.
Following the lead of their resilient quarterback, the Nittany Lions rallied for their sixth straight win Saturday at Indiana and could climb in the polls again this weekend. McSorley helped direct Penn State to 24 fourth-quarter points in a 45-31 victory against the Hoosiers.
''We've been down by double digits multiple times late in games,'' the sore McSorley said. ''But there's never that kind of feeling that, `We can't come back from this.'''
Penn State (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) made the previous two wins look easy, outscoring Purdue and Iowa by a combined 103-38.
This one was a physical struggle.
Nobody took more blows than McSorley. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, the 6-foot, 205-pound McSorley stood tall in the pocket even when everything broke down.
With the exception of one brief exit in the first half to get his foot or ankle retaped, McSorley brushed off the pain and kept right on playing as Indiana charged ahead.
In perhaps the gutsiest performance of his career, McSorley finished 16 of 30 for 332 yards passing, three short of a career high. He also threw two TD passes and two interceptions, one of which sailed high as he tried to avoid an untouched blitzing defender.
His left elbow and forearm were wrapped in ice after the win, and he was dealing with a sore left ankle.
''When the game is on the line, he has no fear in his eyes,'' running back Saquon Barkley said. ''He gets banged up, he gets hit, but he gets right back up. He knows the team needs him. He's a big part of our team, so he just sucks it up and keeps grinding through it.''
McSorley also got some help from his teammates in the comeback against the Hoosiers.
Trailing 24-14 late in the third quarter, McSorley tossed a perfect 21-yard TD pass to Chris Godwin between an Indiana defender and the sideline.
On the next series, McSorley got the Hoosiers to bite on a flea-flicker and threw a high-arching 54-yard completion to DaeSean Hamilton. Two plays later, Barkley squirted through a hole and walked into the end zone for a 4-yard TD run that lifted Penn State to a 28-24 lead.
McSorley wasn't finished.
Three series later, trailing 31-28 and with Penn State's sudden resurgence in danger of being squashed, McSorley methodically marched his team down the field one more time to set up Barkley's 2-yard TD run with 3:58 left.
The Nittany Lions' defense took care of the rest, finally giving McSorley a well-deserved break and a reason to celebrate.
''He's a tough sucker, he really is,'' Penn State coach James Franklin said. ''He is tough, he is smart, he is resilient, he is a playmaker. The guys believe in him they really do.''
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