Late Touchdowns Not Enough to Overcome Iowa, 41-21

Clifford sparks offense with two passing touchdowns in third quarter


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State trimmed its third-quarter deficit to 13 with touchdowns on back-to-back throws by Sean Clifford, but the Nittany Lions fell 41-21 to Iowa in Big Ten action at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. The Hawkeyes found success on the ground, scoring four rushing touchdowns.


Penn State (0-5, 0-5 Big Ten) quarterback Sean Clifford entered the game in the third quarter and immediately sparked the Nittany Lion offense. He found Brenton Strange (28 yards) and Jahan Dotson (68 yards) for touchdowns on back-to-back throws. The Nittany Lions’ late rally was not enough to overcome a 24-7 halftime deficit. Iowa (3-2, 3-2 Big Ten) added a late touchdown on a 71-yard interception return by Daviyon Nixon.


Clifford finished the game completing 13-of-22 passes for 174 yards, while starter Will Levis completed 13-of-16 passes for 106 yards. Dotson caught eight passes for 139 yards to earn his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Lamont Wade led the Penn State defense with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery to set up a touchdown. Shaka Toney recorded three tackles for loss, including two sacks, while Jayson Oweh had six tackles, including 1.5 for loss.


Iowa rushed for 175 yards, led by Mekhi Sargent’s 101 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Goodson added 78 yards and a touchdown. Spencer Petras completed 18-of-28 passes for 186 yards and rushed for a 3-yard score. Nick Niemann led the Hawkeye defensive unit with 17 tackles. Jack Campbell contributed seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.


How it Happened

Penn State answered an Iowa field goal with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Keyvone Lee late in the first quarter.  A methodical drive included 44 rushing yards and six completions by Levis. On third-and-goal, Lee took a handoff through the middle.


The Hawkeyes responded with three rushing touchdowns, including a 10-yard run by Goodson and a pair of 1-yard runs by Sargent, to take a 24-7 lead into halftime. Iowa pushed its lead to 31-7 in the third quarter on a 3-yard sneak by Petras.


The Nittany Lions trimmed the deficit on a 28-yard touchdown pass by Clifford to Strange along the right sideline. The score was setup by an Iowa botched snap at their own 30, recovered by Wade and returned to the 28-yard-line.


Following a missed field goal by Iowa, Clifford’s first throw of the ensuing drive connected with Dotson for a 68-yard touchdown. Clifford got the Hawkeyes’ defense to bite on a pump-fake before finding an open Dotson deep down the field. Lee scored on a run to convert the two-point conversion. The Nittany Lions trailed 31-21 with seven seconds left in the third quarter.


Iowa answered with a 24-yard field goal by Keith Duncan. The Hawkeyes added to their lead on Nixon’s pick-six late in the fourth quarter.


Up Next

Penn State travels to Michigan next Saturday for a matchup in Ann Arbor. Game time and television coverage will be announced Sunday.


The 2020 Penn State Football Season is presented by PSECU.