EAST LANSING, Mich. – Given everything that happened Saturday in a second straight heartbreaking loss for Penn State, it was easy to overlook the fact that Trace McSorley became the program’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes.
McSorley threw for 381 yards and three scores in the Nittany Lions’ 27-24 defeat. He now has 50 TD passes in his career, breaking the record of 48 previously held by Christian Hackenberg.
But all the fourth-year junior quarterback saw was three interceptions, the most he’s thrown all year. The Nittany Lions, who entered the game second in the nation in turnover margin at plus-14, were minus-2 Saturday.
“I can’t throw three interceptions,” McSorley said. “I’ve got to do better for our team. I did a really bad job of that today.
“Each one’s kind of different. We’ll go back and look at them on film. Decision-making … you can’t force it down the field on the first one, throwing into a tight window on the run. The next two, you’ve just got to throw a better ball.”
None of the three turnovers led to points by the Spartans.
Sucking it up
Some people wondered why head coach James Franklin appeared as if he was running off the field right after Michigan State’s Matt Coghlin kicked the game-winning 34-yard field goal.
Franklin explained later that he saw some of his players leaving the field, and he wanted them to return to shake hands with the Spartans.
“We’re going to win with class and we’re going to lose with class,” he said. “We’re going to shake people’s hands and give them credit because they deserved it.”
Linebacker Koa Farmer said it was the right thing to do.
“Guys were frustrated, guys were mad, but that’s not why we come to Penn State,” he said. “That’s not the men we are. That’s not the character we are. That’s a testament to Coach Franklin. That’s the kind of man he is. That’s the kind of leader he is.”
Keeping the faith
Penn State’s players might be down after losing consecutive games for the first time since 2015, when the Nittany Lions lost their last four games of the season. But DaeSean Hamilton said this is the time his teammates have to show heart.
“Really, we can’t let three games slip obviously,” the fifth-year wide receiver said, referring to the rest of the Lions’ regular season. “You’ve got to have heart to bounce back from something like this, being on top of the world at one moment during the season, and then letting two games slip behind us.
“So you’ve got to dig down deep, grind a little bit harder and you basically just will your team and lead by example. That’s really one of the main things we’re going to have to do.”
Hamilton caught seven passes for a team-high 112 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans.
Penn State played Saturday without two starters — offensive tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) and defensive end Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley). Both were injured the previous week against Ohio State. Franklin does not discuss injuries, but the two did not make the trip to Michigan State.