PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) – Trace McSorley threw two touchdown passes to tight end Pat Freiermuth and No. 16 Penn State’s defense set up two touchdowns with turnovers in a 20-7 victory over Rutgers on Saturday, sending the Scarlet Knights to their 10th straight loss.
McSorley’s touchdown passes covered 6 yards in the second quarter and 18 in the fourth as the Nittany Lions (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten, No. 14 CFP) beat Rutgers (1-10, 0-7) for the 12th straight time. Jake Pinegar added field goals of 22 and 19 yards.
The win was No. 30 for McSorley as a starter, making him the winningest quarterback in school history. The senior had been tied with Todd Blackledge (1980-82) and Tony Sacca (1988-91). The two touchdowns increased his total – running and passing – to 101.
Raheem Blacksheer scored on a 2-yard fourth-quarter run for Rutgers to deny Penn State its first shutout in more than a season.
The dominant group for Penn State was its defense, which forced three turnovers, had four sacks and 11 tackles for losses and held Rutgers to 46 yards passing.
Safety Garrett Taylor intercepted a horrible pass by freshman Art Sitkowski late in the second quarter to give the Nittany Lions the ball at the Rutgers 28. Four plays later, McSorley (17 of 37 for 183 yards) found Freiermuth for a 10-3 lead with 2:04 left in the half.
Senior Gio Rescigno replaced Sitkowski (3 of 7 for 18 yards and two interceptions) after the bad decision on the screen pass Penn State read from the start.
A Daniel Joseph recovery of an Isaih Pacheco fumble at the Rutgers 46 late in the third quarter set up the second TD pass early in the fourth for a 20-0 lead.
The Scarlet Knights should have scored in the third quarter. After moving 82 yards on 14 running plays, they ran a fourth-down flea flicker from the 2-yard line and a wide-open Rescigno dropped a soft pass from Trey Sneed, who had lined up outside and took a toss from Blackshear.
This was not an impressive performance by the Nittany Lions, who were hoping to move into a position for a possible New Year’s Day bowl game. The offense never got going and the only reason it was no contest was the Penn State defense.
The Scarlet Knights are now facing the prospect of their first one-win season since going 1-11 in Greg Schiano’s second season, in 2002. Rutgers was 0-11 in 1997, so this isn’t rock bottom. The 10-game losing streak is the longest since losing 11 in a row over the end of the 1998-99 season.
Penn State: Plays host to Maryland next Saturday and then waits for a bowl bid.
Rutgers: Finishes season at Michigan State next Saturday.
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