Penn State finishes regular season with win over Illinois

Nittany Nation

Penn State head coach James Franklin joins his players for the alma mater following an NCAA college football game against Michigan State in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Penn State hosts Illinois for its “Champions Week” game Saturday night.

The game kicksoff at 5:30 p.m. televised on Fox Sports 1.

Illinois is playing without 17 players for today’s game.

You can find live updates from the game below:

First Quarter

Penn State has its fastest start possible. On the very first offensive play, Sean Clifford hit Jahan Dotson on a short pass. He made a defender miss and went 75 yards to the house!

Penn State leads Illinois 7-0 with just 12 seconds into the game.

Illinois’ first play would be a trick play. The Illini picked up 33 yards on a double pass. Brandon Peters threw a pass to another QB Isaiah Williams – who hit Chase Brown for a 33-yard pickup.

Later in the drive, Williams would be intercepted by State College native Keaton Ellis. It is his first career interception.

On the very next play, Penn State turns it back over. Sean Clifford fumbled the ball on a run and Illinois would take over on the Penn State 16-yard line. Williams would hit his wide receiver Brian Hightower for a five-yard touchdown.

Things just get crazier.

On the ensuing kickoff, safety Lamont Wade takes the kickoff back 100 yards for the touchdown. Penn State leads 14-7 with 10:51 left in the first quarter.

Illinois gets the ball back and quarterback Williams runs 64 yards to Penn State’s 11 yard line. Running back Chase Brown would run 12 yards for the touchdown. Game is tied 14-14.

Illinois would force a punt and get the ball right back. Williams hit his tight end Daniel Barker on a screen pass. Barker would run 38 yards for the touchdown. Penn State now trails 21-14 in the first quarter.

Illinois only had 18 scholarship players available on defense tonight. Penn State drives right down the field. On a 4th-and-goal from the three yard line, Will Levis supermans into the end zone. The game is once again tied 21-21.

Illinois gets the ball back with 1:13 left in the first quarter.

Second Quarter

On the first play of the second quarter, Illinois punts and Jahan Dotson returns the punt 50 yards to the Illinois 10-yard line. Penn State running back Caziah Holmes would score his first career touchdown from three yards out.

Penn State reclaims the lead 28-21 early in the second quarter.

Later in the second quarter, Penn State would put together a long drive. Running back Keyvone Lee would cap a 15-play, 91-yard, drive with a touchdown plunge. The one-yard touchdown gives Penn State the lead 35-21.

Welcome to the Wild West.

Penn State would force a three-and-out and would take over on its own 30-yard line. The Nittany Lions would strike quick again. Sean Clifford would hit Dotson on another short pass. Dotson would show off the speed again with a 70-yard touchdown run after the catch.

Dotson would have 183 yards and 2 touchdowns on five catches in the first half. He also had a 50-yard punt return.

Penn State would lead 42-21 at halftime.

Third Quarter

The third quarter would start much calmer in terms of offense.

The teams would trade punts.

Penn State would force a turnover. Antonio Shelton would sack Isaiah Williams who then fumbled. Linebacker Brandon Smith would recover the fumble. Penn State would take over backed up on its 39-yard line.

Penn State’s ensuing drive would result in a punt. Penn State still trails 42-21.

Penn State find the end zone again late in the 3rd quarter. Will Levis entered the game at quarterback on a 4th-and-1 from the 7-yard line.

He threw a pass to tight end Brenton Strange. Strange would have a highlight-reel play diving over an Illinois defender and hitting the pylon for a 7-yard score.

Penn State leads 49-21 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Will Levis would get more playing time at quarterback in the fourth quarter. Penn State would also lean on the run game with the lead.

Later in the the fourth, Holmes would pick up his second rushing touchdown. That marks two touchdowns in his career – both in this game.

Penn State would take the lead 56-21 with 3:32 left in the game.

Penn State would have a chance to play plenty of backups. QB Ta’Quan Roberson would see his first playing time of the season.

Penn State would beat Illinois 56-21 to move to 4-5 on the season. Illinois drops to 2-6 on the season.

Penn State tallied 580 total yards on the night. The Nittany Lions threw for 327 and rushed for 253.

Now, we wait on the team’s decision on a possible bowl bid.

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