Penn State, Barkley bowl over Washington in Fiesta
GLENDALE, Ariz. — No. 9 Penn State was a stop here and a scoring drive there from a berth in the college football playoff, and the Nittany Lions looked every bit a title contender Saturday.
Saquon Barkley had 137 yards rushing, including a Fiesta Bowl-record 92-yard touchdown run, and Trace McSorley completed 32 of 41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-28 victory over No. 11 Washington at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“The whole week we heard how good their defense was, giving up 98 yards (per game) on the ground,” Barkley said. “We got 92 on one play.”
Barkley had two touchdown runs as the Nittany Lions (11-2) won their seventh Fiesta Bowl victory in as many tries.
McSorley also rushed for 58 yards and directed an offense that converted 13 of 17 third-down situations and its only fourth-down attempt.
“You look at our season — there were twists and turns and ups and downs, but these guys never stopped believing,” Penn State coach James Franklin said.
“What won it was our third-down offense. We were fantastic on third down. That was something we emphasized this year and we gradually improved on it.”
Penn State took a 28-7 lead 18 minutes into the game before weathering a late surge by Washington (10-3), which got within seven points twice in the second half, the last on Myles Gaskin’s 69-yard run on a direct snap with 6:52 remaining. Gaskin rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns, both after taking direct snaps.
The Nittany Lions, who had a school bowl-record 545 yards of total offense, used more than six minutes after taking the ensuing kickoff before missing a 45-yard field goal attempt, but Washington’s last-ditch hook-and-ladder play on fourth down ended with a fumble.
Penn State’s 545 yards were most Washington gave up this season, and the Huskies had not allowed more than 30 points in a span of 26 games, since the 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Washington had 331 yards, staying in the game only because the Nittany Lions committed three turnovers, including two McSorley interceptions.
“I’d like to start this press conference right here, flat-out miserable,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “They had us on our heels most of the night. You’re never out of it. You just keep playing. It’s hard to catch a really good team when they get that big of a lead.”
Washington quarterback Jake Browning completed 18 of 28 passes for 175 yards, and his 28-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Fuller on the first drive of the second half after the Huskies went to a no-huddle offense made it 28-21.
McSorley’s 24-yard scoring pass to DaeSean Hamilton late in the third quarter pushed the Nittany Lions’ lead to two touchdowns again at 35-21. Hamilton had four receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington had not allowed a pass play longer than 40 yards or a rush longer than 35 yards this season, but Penn State surpassed both by early in the second quarter.
McSorley completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Hamilton for a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game, and Barkley’s 92-yard score made it 28-7 with 9:01 left in the second quarter.
Penn State scored touchdowns on four of its first five drives to take control. After McSorley’s first touchdown pass to Hamilton, Barkley scored on a 2-yard run for a 14-0 lead with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
Washington used a trick play for its first down when wide receiver Andre Baccellia took a lateral from Browning and completed a 52-yard pass to tight end Will Dissly to put the ball on the Penn State 12. Browning scored on a sneak two plays later.
Miles Sanders countered with a 1-yard touchdown run before Barkley’s 92-yarder made it 28-7 lead after Washington’s pooch punt pinned the Nittany Lions deep.
Gaskin took a direct snap and scored on a 13-yard run to make it 28-14 with 4:15 left in the half after the Huskies recovered a fumble at the Penn State 33.
NOTES: Penn State played one of the most remarkable Fiesta Bowls in history in a 14-10 victory over No. 1 Miami, Fla., to conclude the 1986 season and win the most recent of its two consensus national championships. ... Washington’s first trip to the Fiesta Bowl marks its eighth bowl destination in the last eight seasons. ... The Pac-12 is 1-8 in bowl games this season. Utah, the only winner, was invited to the Heart of Dallas Bowl as a replacement because Conference USA did not have enough bowl qualifiers. “Sometimes you have those years,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.