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Penn State defeats Utah in Rose Bowl [updated]

LOS ANGELES – The play is one of the foundations of the Penn State offense, one that was taught on the first day of installation.

When running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider saw the Utah defense line up, he knew Nick Singleton was going to make history.

“It was unbelievable, man,” Seider said. “We knew we were going to have a loaded (defensive) box. As soon as I saw their guys with no safety help, it was over. He was gone.”

Singleton, the former Gov. Mifflin star, broke a third-quarter tie with an electrifying 87-yard touchdown run, sending No. 9 Penn State past No. 7 Utah 35-21 Monday night before 94,873 fans at the 109th Rose Bowl.

The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Singleton carried just seven times for 120 yards and two TDs, including a 5-yard run in the first quarter.

But it was his go-ahead burst with 9:25 left in the third quarter that drew comparisons with those that former Penn State backs Ki-Jana Carter (1995) and Saquon Barkley (2017) had in previous Rose Bowl appearances.

“Everybody told me about it toward the end of the game,” Singleton said. “Saquon and Carter had good runs, so it felt good. It feels good to be in that company.

“The linemen did a great job blocking. I just saw a big hole. Once I went past them and got to the second level, I just saw green grass. I just took off. It was crazy. I just felt hyped.”

Sean Cllifford also enjoyed a memorable night in his final game as the Penn State quarterback, completing 16-of-21 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

The much-maligned sixth-year senior connected with Mitchell Tinsley for a 10-yard score in the second quarter and then an 88-yarder to a wide-open KeAndre Lambert-Smith early in the fourth quarter.

“Just seeing what he has battled through…like everything,” tight end Theo Johnson said. “For him to go out this way and to get the (offensive) MVP and for us to get a Rose Bowl win, you couldn’t write it up any better.”

The Nittany Lions (11-2) beat a top 10 opponent for the first time since 2016 after 11 straight losses and a ranked team for the first time since a 28-20 victory over Auburn in September 2021.

Penn State posted its fourth 11-win season and its fourth top-10 finish in the polls in the last seven seasons by beating the Utes (10-4), the Pac-12 champions.

“They said we didn’t beat anybody all year,” Seider said. “It’s pretty impressive, man. I’m so happy for Coach (James) Franklin. He got that monkey off his back, saying we can’t win a big game.

“The seniors went out the right way. I got to see my son (Jaden) play in the Rose Bowl. It’s so surreal, man.”

The Lions’ first Rose Bowl win in 28 years was a historic night all around. They arrived at the stadium wearing No. 34 jerseys in honor of former running back Franco Harris, the Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers who died last month.

They also won on the 100th anniversary of their first Rose Bowl appearance on Jan. 1, 1923, the first game played at the current venue.

“I’m beyond happy that we went out as Rose Bowl champs,” said center Juice Scruggs, who played his final college game. “This means everything to me. Like Tig (safety Ji’Ayir Brown) said in the locker room, if we wouldn’t have won this game I wouldn’t have felt complete. I feel so complete right now. I’m the happiest man in the world.”

In his final game, Brown was named the game’s defensive MVP after he made a team-high eight tackles, including 1.5 for losses, and had an interception, one of two forced by the Penn State defense.

“Tig is the foundation of our defense,” said cornerback Kalen King, who had a first-quarter interception. “He’s so complete. He’s so smart. He’s so technical. He’s just a playmaker. Getting an opportunity to play with a guy like that is amazing.”

Utah quarterback Cam Rising, the heart and soul of his team, suffered an injury to his left leg and left the field with 8:31 left in the third quarter and the Utes trailing 21-14. He did not return.

With Penn State holding a 21-14 lead, Clifford faked a screen and then unloaded a bomb to Lambert-Smith, who was behind 10 yards behind any defender and ran untouched into the end zone.

Kaytron Allen, Singleton’s classmate and running mate, capped the Penn State scoring with a 1-yard run with 10:36 to go. Utah scored in the final minute, but the Utes and the rain couldn’t dampen the celebration of the Lions, who began the season unranked.

“This is huge,” Johnson said. “It’s really, really big for momentum and ultimately respect. People have questions about us. People across the country don’t give us the respect we deserve. This win was really a statement win in many ways.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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