BY SPNW Staff 05:33PM 12/30/2017

Fiesta Bowl recap: Nittany Lions 35, Huskies 28

No. 9 Penn State rolled to a 28-7 lead, then held off a comeback for a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl win over the Huskies Saturday in Glendale, AZ.

RB Saquon Barkley ran for two touchdowns, including a 92-yarder, in Penn State’s win over Washington Saturday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest


No. 9 Penn State rolled to a 28-7 lead, weathered a significant Washington rally, and pounded home a 35-28 victory over the 11th-ranked Huskies at the Fiesta Bowl Saturday in Glendale, AZ (box). UW’s loss capped the worst showing ever by the Pac-12 in a single bowl season. The conference finished 1-8.

Penn State QB Trace McSorley had a pair of touchdown passes to WR DaeSean Hamilton, and RB Saquon Barkley ran for two more, including a 92-yarder in the second quarter. But the key stat was McSorley’s 12-for-12 passing performance on third down, which contributed heavily to the Nittany Lions amassing 545 yards, a Penn State record in a bowl game and the most allowed by the Huskies this season.

After falling behind 28-7, Washington in the second quarter scored on a 13-yard run by RB Myles Gaskin and in the third quarter on a 28-yard TD pass from Jake Browning to WR Aaron Fuller. The Nittany Lions extended their lead to 35-21, but Gaskin ran a season-best 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-28 with 10 minutes left. But Washington could do nothing with its final three possessions.

Washington had a shot in the final seconds with a hook and lateral play that began with a fourth-down completion at the Penn State 48 to Fuller, who lateraled to WR Dante Pettis for 14 more yards. But rather than step out of bounds to preserve time for one more play, Pettis threw the ball behind him where no Huskies were available to scoop the ball.

Washington had not allowed more than 30 points in a game since the 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl, a 44-31 victory over Southern Mississippi, a span of 26 games.


Gaskin’s TDs increased his season total to 21 rushing touchdowns. Gaskin had 11 TDs in his past four games and for 44 in his career, a school record. He had 98 yards on 14 carries, but as a team, UW managed only 104 yards on the ground.

Browning completed 18 of 28 for 175 yards. His TD to Fuller increased his school record to 78. His rushing TD was his eighth of the year. Fuller’s TD was the first of his college career.

Washington played catch-up the entire game after running only six offensive plays in the first quarter, generating minus-7 yards. When Penn State took a 14-0 lead, it had a 170-1 total yards advantage. Washington’s only offensive play of consequence in the quarter was a trick play on a double pass, from Browning to WR Andre Baccellia to Will Dissly for 52 yards that set up a one-yard Browning TD run.


Entering the Fiesta Bowl ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense at 92.3 yards per game, Washington allowed 203 to the Nittany Lions, including 137 by Barkley. UW was fifth nationall  in total defense at 277.4 yards and allowed 545.

McSorley completed 32 of 41, hammering the Huskies for 342 yards. He completed throws to nine receivers.

Barkley’s 92-yard TD romp in the second quarter was the second-longest against the Huskies, regular season or bowl, eclipsed by a 95-yard TDfrom¬† UCLA’s DeShaun Foster in 2001.

Washington grabbed three turnovers, including interceptions by freshman CB Byron Murphy and sophomore CB Austin Joyner. Murphy’s pick came in the end zone and prevented a Penn State touchdown.


Penn State, which entered as a two-point favorite, improved to 4-0 all-time against UW. It marked the first meeting between the schools since the 1983 Aloha Bowl, a 13-10 Nittany Lions victory . . . The Huskies are 18-19-1 in 38 bowl appearances dating to the 1924 Rose Bowl against Navy . . . Chris Petersen fell to 1-3 in bowl games as UW’s coach. His only win: the 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl . . . Washington (10-3) finished with 10 wins in back-to-back years for the first time 1990-91 . . . The Pac-12 sent nine teams to bowl games and only Utah won, beating West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.


  • woofer

    Praise be to Allah for the Utes and the Heart of Lettuce Bowl. This just in from Northern California: the Pac-12 is moving en masse to NCAA Division II. The U-Haul trucks are coming in at midnight and by morning it will be a done deal. Just like Ken Behring.

    It makes good sense. Pac-12 teams compete really, really well against Portland State and Eastern Washington, what to say of Idaho and Montana State. Boise State? Not so much. And who even cares if we never see another bully from the Big 10?

    Plus there are only about three solid coaches left — David Shaw, Chris Petersen and maybe Justin Wilcox on the rise. Willie Taggart bailed after a single season. Chip Kelly is a one-trick pony. Clay Helton stopped the bleeding at USC but won’t reach the mountain top. That’s about it. Plus Division II has an actual playoff system. Mankato State, here we come! I can hardly wait!

  • 1coolguy

    One word: McSorley