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STATE COLELGE, Pa. (AP) – Amani Oruwariye intercepted a Zac Thomas pass in the end zone and No. 10 Penn State held on to beat Appalachian State 45-38 in overtime on Saturday, exactly 11 years after the Mountaineers stunned Michigan in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
Miles Sanders rushed 19 times for 91 yards with two touchdowns including the go-ahead score in overtime for the Nittany Lions (1-0). But Penn State let a 31-17 lead evaporate when Appalachian State scored on three straight possessions over 5:53 in the fourth quarter and things were tense in Happy Valley.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who completed 21 of 36 passes for 230 yards and ran for two scores, led a game-tying drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to KJ Hamler with 42 seconds left.
Thomas, who returned from injury to lead his team’s comeback, completed 25 of 38 passes for 270 yards, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another for Appalachian State (0-1). Jalin Moore ran 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown and Malik Williams caught two touchdowns for the Mountaineers.
Mountaineers kicker Chandler Stanton added a field goal but missed a 56-yarder wide right with 20 seconds left. Jake Pinegar kicked a 32-yard field goal for Penn State to tie the game 10-10 just before halftime.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers continued their trend of playing Top 25 teams tough in season openers. They pushed Tennessee to overtime two years ago and hung tough against Georgia last season. They controlled play for much of the first half and looked poised to deliver another stunning performance after their 2007 stunner over Michigan in The Big House. Despite the loss, they appear to have the pieces to make a run at what would be at their third straight Sun Belt championship.
Penn State: Having lost their three top playmakers and vaunted offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who took over as Mississippi State’s head coach, the Nittany Lion offense looks like a work in progress. McSorley can do plenty with his legs if he and his receivers aren’t on the same page but Penn State’s defense couldn’t get a stop in the fourth quarter where the Nittany Lions were outgained and outscored 28-14.
Appalachian State travels to Charlotte on Sept. 8
Penn State visits Pittsburgh on Sept. 8.
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