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Rudel: Highs and lows for PSU

Commentary

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 Lions’ 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.

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