State College, Pa. — Michigan defensive lineman Frank Clark was a difference-maker in the Wolverines loss to Penn State.
But it wasn’t enough.
Clark had two sacks and two fumble recoveries, including one he ran in for a score in the opening seconds of the second half to give Michigan a boost. His fumble recovery in the third overtime looked like it might seal the victory.
But Brendan Gibbons missed a 33-yard field goal that would have won it.
Michigan fell 43-40 in four overtimes to the Nittany Lions.
“We couldn’t finish,” Clark said. “We had a lot of opportunities to win the game. We missed tackles, we missed a lot of opportunities.”
Penn State needed 23 seconds to drive 80 yards in five plays to score a touchdown and tie the game in regulation. Clark said the defense was not fatigued.
“Not tired at all,” he said. “We didn’t get to the ball. Our pass rush failed. We preach every day in practice, we’ve been preaching since the spring, if we get a four-man rush, that’s the key to our defense. We failed to do that.”
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said the team was not deflated after Gibbons’ miss in the third overtime.
“I just knew we had to go out and play again,” Gardner said. “We had to keep fighting. It wasn’t miss or make. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got to keep fighting. If he had made it we would have gone home, since he missed it, we kept playing.”
Sam Ficken, Penn State’s kicker, said he went over to Gibbons after the game and offered encouragement.
“First thing I did was run over to him and tell him to keep his head up,” Ficken said. “He’s a good kicker. Hopefully he bounces back. You never want to see a kid get too down on himself.”
Ficken missed his field-goal attempt in the first overtime, and Gibbons had his 40-yarder blocked.
“The kicker had been kicking it low,” said Penn State defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz, who made the block. “So I pushed (the line back) and waited for a second or two and then put my hands up.”
Penn State senior guard John Urschel on the win: “A Saturday night under the lights, a white out, and this was Penn State versus Michigan game my senior year, and we won. This is probably going to be the greatest college football game I’ve ever played in.”