STATE COLLEGE — Penn State football coach James Franklin claimed the Nittany Lions had a better chance to score in the first quarter Saturday on a fake field goal than with the offense from the 2-yard line.
Michigan’s Vincent Gray tackled kicker Jordan Stout shortly after Stout caught a pass from holder Rafael Checa. Stout lost a fumble, which Daxon Hill recovered and returned to the Wolverines’ 29.
“I think you guys know as well as me we have not been great in short-yardage situations,” Franklin said. “So that was our going for it on fourth down. I felt like we had the look that we wanted.”
Penn State lost three to seven points on the play in what turned out to be a 21-17 loss at Beaver Stadium. Checa had never attempted a pass before and Stout had never caught a pass before.
If Franklin had decided to keep the offense on the field on fourth-and-goal from the 2, the Lions could have pinned Michigan deep inside its territory if they couldn’t get in the end zone.
“I’d make the call again but obviously it wasn’t successful,” Franklin said. “We were going to call the game today in an aggressive way to give us the best chance to win the game.”
Stout said Penn State’s special teams practiced the fake field goal a lot during the week.
“We did it quite a bit this week because we thought we might run it,” he said.
Earlier in the first quarter, Stout faked a punt and threw a pass to linebacker Curtis Jacobs for 18 yards to the Michigan 21. That set up Stout’s 42-yard field goal, which made it 3-0.
“It’s a lot of preparation,” said Jacobs, who played receiver in high school. “That’s something we work on. I wouldn’t say every day, but we work on it a lot. All those reps are just getting ready for your moment.”
Stout said Penn State didn’t call a fake until after Michigan called a timeout with the Lions in punt formation.
“Since I didn’t know we were going to do it, my arm wasn’t warm,” Stout said. “I hadn’t thrown a ball all day, so I just went behind the huddle and I started wiggling my arms around and got loose.”
Lee emerges: Penn State finally might have a No. 1 running back with two games left in the regular season.
Sophomore Keyvone Lee carried a season-high 20 times for 88 yards Saturday, the most by a Lions back in any game this season. He increased his season total to 375 yards on 76 carries.
“I don’t know,” Lee said when asked if he got into a rhythm. “I was just playing. I was so caught up in just making plays and playing the game. I wasn’t really worried about my touches.”
Lee was shaken up in the fourth quarter but finished the game. He did not touch the ball on Penn State’s last two possessions, which did not yield a first down.
Haskins strong: Michigan senior Hassan Haskins carried 31 times for 157 yards and caught five passes for 45 yards.
Haskins saw his duties increase because of the absence of Blake Corum, who usually alternates at running back and who did not make the trip because of an injury.
“He’s a really good player,” Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie said of Haskins. “He does a good job being patient behind the blocking. He’s a really good player. He came out here and gave a good performance.”
Injury report: Wide receiver Jahan Dotson did not finish the game and was not available for postgame interviews after he was shaken up on Penn State’s next-to-last play from scrimmage.
Dotson made nine catches for 61 yards and a two-point conversion reception.
Penn State center Mike Miranda did not play in the second half because of an injury. Juice Scruggs moved from guard to center, and Bryce Effner replaced Scruggs at guard.
Quarterback Sean Clifford finished the game despite being sacked seven times and being knocked to the ground several other times. He was not available for postgame interviews.
Source: Berkshire mont