University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Bill Belton's 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth overtime session capped off an improbable comeback as Penn State upended No. 18 Michigan, 43-40, at Beaver Stadium.
Trailing 40-37 after Brendan Gibbons connected on a 40-yard field goal, Penn State (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) converted a crucial 4th-and-1 on Belton's 3-yard run. Three plays later, the Wolverines (5-1, 1-1) were whistled for pass interference in the end zone, setting up Belton's game-winning touchdown.
"We came out wanting to run the ball a lot and that's what we did," said Belton. "(Coach Bill O'Brien) believes in running the ball and that's what we do at Penn State, we run the ball. I enjoyed playing the game today and we just got to get back to work on Monday."
The Nittany Lions have now defeated Michigan in four straight contests on the heels of a nine-game losing streak.
Penn State had the first opportunity in overtime, but Chris Wormley sacked Christian Hackenberg on second down to set up 3rd-and-8. The third down pass was off the mark and Sam Ficken missed his 40-yard field goal try, leaving the door open for the Wolverines.
Michigan, content to try the game-winning field goal, ran three times for three yards, setting up a Gibbons' 40-yard try. But the stout Penn State defensive line, which was tremendous all game long, stepped up and blocked the attempt, forcing a second overtime period.
In the second session, Gibbons and Ficken each connected on their tries from 25 and 36 yards, respectively.
Allen Robinson, whose 36-yard reception in the final seconds of regulation set up Hackenberg's game-tying touchdown plunge, fumbled an end-around on the first play of the next PSU drive. Frank Clark capped the best game of his career by pouncing on the loose ball. Clark recovered a pair of fumbles, scored a touchdown, and recorded two sacks.
Michigan again failed to capitalize on the Robinson miscue, when Gibbons missed his second kick in overtime and third for the game. The lefty missed a 52-yard kick at the end of regulation which would have won the game for the Maize and Blue.
"We had opportunities throughout the game," said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. "It's a tough one every time you go into overtime, but we've got to move forward."
Hackenberg had the best game of his young career despite throwing a pair of interceptions. The true freshman completed 23-of-44 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Belton carried 27 times for 85 yards and a score.
Jordan Lucas set the tone for Penn State's defense early on by intercepting Devin Gardner on the Wolverines' second possession. Hackenberg took over at the Michigan 14 and three plays later, threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Felder.
After failing to pick up a first down on its first two drives, Michigan's offense came alive after the Penn State touchdown. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Gardner broke off runs of 12 and 15 yards, respectively, before Devin Funchess found space behind the Lions' defense and caught 59-yard touchdown strike from Gardner to tie the score.
Gardner threw three touchdown passes but turned the ball over three times on two picks and a lost fumble. He also ran for a career-high 121 yards but failed to score on the ground for the first time in nine regular-season games.
"It hurts, but I'm so proud of my teammates," said Gardner. "There was a lot of adversity during the game and we fell back, but it wasn't enough."
Gibbons put Michigan ahead 10-7 with a 47-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the opening period.
Early in the second, Penn State made the most of Gardner's second interception. Anthony Zettel picked off the errant pass and Hackenberg found Jesse James for a 20-yard score on the very next play for a 14-10 PSU edge.
With 7:06 remaining in the second quarter, Hackenberg threw a back shoulder fade to Felder on third down from the Michigan 24. Felder made a difficult catch over Courtney Avery for his second touchdown.
Three of Hackenberg's first nine completions went for scores, as the Nittany Lions took a 21-10 lead into the locker rooms.
Michigan regained the momentum early in the second half. James Ross III jarred the ball loose from Zach Zwinak on the first play from scrimmage. Clark scooped it up and broke Hackenberg's arm tackle before reaching the end zone.
Gibbons and Ficken traded field goals later in the third period.
Michigan went back on top late in the third quarter on Jeremy Gallon's touchdown catch near the left pylon. The Wolverines' receiver has recorded at least one catch in 32 straight games.
Ficken then had an opportunity to tie the score, but he pushed a 47-yard field goal try wide left early in the fourth.
The Maize and Blue marched right down the field for a score on the next series. Gardner completed his first two throws of the drive for first downs of 14 yards to Gallon and 13 yards to Drew Dileo before unleashing a 37-yard pass to Funchess in the back of the end zone.
A 43-yarder from Ficken with 6:35 left brought Penn State back within a touchdown at 34-27, but a pass interference on 3rd-and-12 in the final minutes gave the Wolverines a fresh set of downs and forced the Lions to burn their timeouts.
Penn State, playing in front of a rowdy homecoming crowd, took over at their own 20-yard line with 50 seconds left and no timeouts following a Michigan punt. Hackenberg remained poised despite the situation and completed a pair of passes to Robinson around a 29-yard hookup with Felder, the latter of which put the Nittany Lions on the Michigan 1-yard line. Hackenberg scored on a quarterback keeper on the next play to tie the score with 27 seconds showing on the clock.
In the final moments, Gardner found Gallon for a 25-yard pickup to put the Wolverines in field goal range. Gibbons had an opportunity to give Michigan the win, but his 52-yard field goal fell just shy of the goal posts to force overtime.
Michigan 2012 AP All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan left the game late in the second quarter with a right leg injury and did not return ... With his fourth extra point, Gibbons made his 127th consecutive PAT, setting a Michigan program record ... Michigan linebacker Desmond Morgan has recorded at least four tackles in 2 straight regular season games ... The four-overtime affair was the longest game in the history of both programs ... Hackenberg's touchdown late in regulation was the first rushing score Michigan has yielded all season ... C.J. Olaniyan had six tackles and 2.5 sacks for PSU ... Both teams struggled on third down, as Michigan converted just 4-for-18 while Penn State went 3-for-16.