Highs and lows: Williams had play of the game for Nebraska
Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 30-23 loss to Nebraska on Saturday at Memorial Stadium:
PLAY OF THE GAME: Sean Clifford was sacked by Deontai Williams, who punched the ball loose, scooped it up and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown that gave Nebraska a 24-3 lead with 11:29 remaining in the first half.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: PSU backup quarterback Will Levis entered in the second quarter (right after the play of the game). He completed 14 of 31 passes for 219 yards, rushed 18 times for 61 yards and led four scoring drives (two touchdowns, two field goals) as the Lions went from trailing 27-6 at half to having a chance to win in the last minute.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Nebraska safety Marquel Dismuke made a game-high 15 tackles, including one for loss.
MOST TELLING STATISTIC: Despite running 25 plays, Penn State scored one red-zone touchdown.
MOST DECEIVING STATISTIC: Penn State outgained the Cornhuskers 501-298.
HIDDEN STATISTIC: The Nits have now been outscored 93-26 in the first half this year.
BEST RUN: Zavier Betts busted a 45-yard touchdown that extended the Cornhuskers’ lead to 17-3 with 14:01 left in the second quarter.
BEST PASS: Levis shook off pressure and uncorked a 74-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth to the Nebraska 1, setting up a Devyn Ford touchdown that pulled the Lions within 30-23 with 9:20 remaining.
WORST PASS: On the Nits’ first series, Clifford threw well behind Jahan Dotson and was intercepted by Cam Taylor-Britt, who returned it 55 yards on the Lions’ first series.
BEST CATCH: PSU freshman Parker Washington snagged a 12-yarder on third down to the Nebraska 9 to give the Lions a final red-zone opportunity.
CATCH IT, WILL YA?: Pat Freiermuth and freshman KeAndre Lambert-Smith dropped passes, and linebacker Jesse Luketa missed a chance for an interception in the second quarter.
HOLD IT, WON’T YA?: Clifford’s fumble created an uphill climb the Lions couldn’t quite finish.
BEST BLOCK: Husker tight end Jack Stoll blew out linebacker Brandon Smith on Betts’ TD.
BEST TACKLE: With the Nits down 27-13, Ellis Brooks broke through to sack Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey midway through the third quarter, forcing a punt.
WORST TACKLE: Lion corner Marquis Wilson missed Levi Falck after a catch, creating a 21-yard gain in the second quarter.
BEST HIT: Nebraska’s Niko Cooper drilled Keyvone Lee on a first-quarter kickoff return.
BEST KICK: Nebraska’s Will Przystup bombed a 53-yard punt late in the fourth quarter.
WORST KICK: Trailing 17-3, Jordan Stout booted the kickoff out of bounds, giving Nebraska possession at the 35.
WORST PENALTY: Lion guard C.J. Thorpe was hit with a personal foul in the red zone, costing 15 yards.
BEST CALL: On fourth-and-3 late in the first half from the Penn State 35, Nebraska went for it, picked up a first down on Wan’Dale Robinson’s 6-yard run, which led to a field goal and a 27-6 lead.
WORST CALL: On fourth-and-8 from the Nebraska 39, down 27-6, James Franklin’s decision to attempt a 56-yard field goal into the wind (it was short) smelled of desperation. Maybe because it was.
BEST EFFORT: McCaffrey switched hands and, under pressure, dumped a left-handed completion that Marvin Scott turned into a 14-yard gain late in the first half. In his first start, McCaffrey completed 13-of-21 for 152 yards and rushed 13 times for 67 yards. He passed and ran for a touchdown.
UNSUNG HERO: Taylor-Britt returned his interception 55 yards and a punt 25 yards.