Illinois stun No. 7 Penn State 20-18 in the NCAA’s first 9OT game

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Casey Washington captured a 2-point conversion pass from Brandon Peters to complete the first nine overtime in NCAA history and lift Illinois over No. 7 Penn State 20-18 Saturday.

The teams were drawn 10 after regulation, exchanging field goals in the first two overtime and then starting to switch 2-point attempts in the third OT as part of a format that was adjusted ahead of the 2021 season.

No team converted until the eighth overtime when Isaiah Williams ran one in to put Illinois at 18-16. Penn State’s Noah Cain kept the game alive with its own 2-point run.

In the ninth OT, Sean Clifford’s pass to Parker Washington was broken up by linebacker Khalan Tolson. Peters then found Washington near the back of the end zone to win the implementation.

The 2-point conversion competition started in 2019, the season after LSU and Texas A&M played a seven overtime match that left both teams hard-fought. The rule was changed this year, when the 2-point conversion holdings began with the third overtime instead of the fifth.

Chase Brown and Josh McCray combined for 365 rushing yards and a touchdown, and James McCourt kicked three field goals, including 39- and 32-yarders in overtime, to snatch Illinois’ three-game shit for Penn State.

The two bullish backs burst through wide open holes and flanked Penn State’s defense over and over again on a soggy day at Beaver Stadium. Illini (3-5, 2-3 Big Ten) surpassed the Nittany Lions 370 yards to 207 in regulation and fought back from an early 10-0 deficit.

Peters, usually Illinois’ starter, came off the bench when Artur Sitkowski hurt his left hand in the sixth overtime.

KeAndre Lambert-Smith got a touchdown pass and Jordan Stout added three field goals to the Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-2) who ran for just 62 yards and struggled to protect the ailing Clifford.

Led by the Browns’ 229 total yards, Illini equalized 10-10 early in the fourth quarter with a 37-yard field goal from McCourt.

A sloppy fourth quarter provided room for overtime, with McCourt and Stout matching each other on field goals before a series of goal-line standoffs pushed the game into an unprecedented area.

Clifford sustained an unspecified injury on Oct. 9 in Iowa and did not finish that match. He coped with a light workload early Saturday.

The third-year starter attempted just nine passes in the first half and was slow to get up after taking a sack on his first series. After two flawed possessions and just 15 yards on seven games, Clifford was able to collect his offense on his third attempt.

Clifford worked quickly, completing two straight passes down the field to top goalie Jahan Dotson, after which he fired a ball to slanted KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 42-yard touchdown.

Nittany Lions defense helped a little later when linebacker Brandon Smith blew up Sitkowski. Backup quarterback fumbled for D’Von Ellies.

Penn State settled for a 35-yard field goal from Stout as the offense stalled at Illinois 17. Stout’s kick made it 10-0 with 11:42 to play in the second quarter.

Illinois’ rushing offense, which rose 165 yards in the first half, picked up the pace.

Led by Brown and McCray, Illini ran the ball 12 times on a 15-game drive that ended when Brown bumped into the end zone from a yard out and cut Penn State’s lead to 10-7.

Illinois continued to control the pace with its running game, turning a 16-play, 70-yard drive into a binding field goal from McCourt.

TAKEAWAYEN

Illinois: Illini was in it from the opening whistle. They used seven-man fronts and McCray and Brown’s hard charging skills to surpass Penn State’s defense almost all day.

Penn State: Getting Clifford back maybe faster than they thought was good news for the Nittany Lions, especially since their running games are virtually non-existent and they need all the insult they can get with No. 5 Ohio State games, vs. 6 Michigan and No. 9 Michigan State are coming.

NEXT

Illinois: Hosts for the Rutgers.

Penn State: Visit No. 5 Ohio State.

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