Nov 27, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) gets wrapped up by Michigan State Spartans defensive end Drew Beesley (86) during the second quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 12 Michigan State hangs on to beat Penn State

Payton Thorne passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another as No. 12 Michigan State defeated visiting Penn State 30-27 at snowy East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday.

Kenneth Walker III rushed for 138 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown for the Spartans (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten), who lost 56-7 to Ohio State the previous game.

Sean Clifford threw three touchdown passes, including two to Jahan Dotson, for the Nittany Lions (7-5, 4-5). Daequan Hardy had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown for Penn State, which lost five of its last seven regular season games.

The Spartans led 17-14 at halftime.

Michigan State took the opening kickoff and drove 76 yards for a touchdown. Walker, who was questionable to play due to an ankle injury, picked up the last two yards. Thorne’s 40-yard pass to Maliq Carr set up the score.

The Spartans’ next possession was even more impressive. They drove 99 yards in nine plays to take a 14-0 lead. Walker got them away from their goal line with a 35-yard scamper. Thorne’s 9-yard pass to Tre Mosley capped it off.

Penn State answered the next time it had the ball. Clifford, who departed the Nittany Lions’ 28-0 win over Rutgers a week earlier with flu-like symptoms, connected with Dotson from 27 yards out.

After Michigan State was forced to punt from deep in its territory, the Nittany Lions tied it on Clifford’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Dotson early in the second quarter.

Matt Coghlin’s 22-yard field goal gave the Spartans a 17-14 lead. Penn State’s Jordan Stout missed a 27-yard field goal attempt in the final minute.

Penn State took the lead less than four minutes into the second half on Hardy’s 27-yard interception return. The extra point was missed.

The Spartans regained the lead on Thorne’s 1-yard plunge with 2:14 left in the quarter. They also missed the point after.

Following a Nittany Lions turnover, Jayden Reed made a leaping grab in the end zone of a Thorne pass on 4th-and15. That 20-yard touchdown gave the Spartans a 10-point lead with 5:10 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.


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