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The legend of Trace McSorley

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Trace McSorley had already etched his place into the Mount Rushmore of Penn State quarterbacks before the Nittany Lions ever set foot in Orlando, Fla. for the Citrus Bowl.
With his performance in Tuesday’s game against Kentucky, he now stands alone at the top. 

The game itself was a microcosm of Penn State’s issues that plagued them all season, you know, the we can’t get out of our own way kind of mistakes that get old after the third game of the season. 

Stop me if you’ve heard this about a game played by the Nittany Lions this year: dropped passes, dumb penalties and an uncanny ability to avoid converting on 3rd downs like they were the plague. 

Mistakes aside, it truly looked like they decided practice over the break wasn’t necessary and just picked up where they left off in November even though head coach James Franklin raved about having extra special teams practices 

Had the Nittany Lions just given up playing special teams as one of their New Year’s resolutions, they just might have done better than they did on special teams against the Wildcats. 

Freshman kicker Jake Pinegar missed two first half field goals while a botched fake punt on the first drive didn’t do much to help the warm fuzzies the special teams units didn’t give this season. 
 
If the leaving six points off the board wasn’t enough, the back-breaking punt return for a touchdown was certainly more than enough. 

But enough about that, this is supposed to be about McSorley after all. 

Coming out of the half it was Sean Clifford, the back-up, who was lined up at quarterback for Penn State. It was announced by the sports information department of the Nittany Lions McSorley had a broken foot and would not be returning. 

Getting Penn State to release any sort of health update is a feat in itself as the university is as secure as Fort Knox when it comes to giving out any sort of important issue. 

An angsty McSorley could be seen on the sidelines without his helmet, his career in blue-and-white seemingly over. 

And then he came back into the game. 

McSorley immediately began driving the ball down field, a problem the Nittany Lions had whether he was healthy or not, and promptly threw an interception. The Penn State portion of the Camping World Stadium crowd fell eerily quiet and then the magic happened. 

It was 27-7 after three quarters of play and the game looked very much out of reach. McSorley though, with his Gatorade bottle seemingly filled with the same liquid used for Michael’s Secret Stuff in Space Jam, had other plans. 

The redshirt senior began his team’s comeback with a touchdown run of his own and coupled with another defensive stop, they were right back in business. 

McSorley found tight end Pat Freiermuth for a completion inside the 10-yard line and the freshman barreled through multiple Kentucky defenders en route to the end zone. 

Now 27-21, the Nittany Lions had momentum and time still on their side. McSorley led the offense the field once again and had the team well within field goal range. The drive would stall and Franklin would be faced with his biggest decision of the game. 

With 4th and 7 upcoming Franklin elected to kick the field goal rather than going for it. A made field goal would cut the lead to three points and with just over four minutes left and all three timeouts, it was very plausible Penn State would get another shot. 

Pinegar made this one, a 32-yarder, and it seemed like the Nittany Lions were well on their way to a come-from-behind victory. 

That momentum would be short lived as the Wildcats fed their new all-time leading rusher Benny Snell the ball resulting in sealing the game for Kentucky. 

The Wildcats wouldn’t score, however, they would punt but left only a second on the clock for more potential McSorley magic. 

It would be for naught though as a hook-and-ladder would fail and Kentucky would win the game. 

In his last game, McSorley finished 17-for-33 passing for 275 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 75 yards and another score and put the final marks on a career for the ages as a Nittany Lion. 

McSorley finished his journey in Penn State uniform setting record after record and winning  game after game. 

And while his record and statistics were great, it was his heart, toughness and grit that has made McSorley one of the most beloved figures to don a Penn State uniform. 

When people mention quarterbacks who played for the Nittany Lions, legends such as Kerry Collins, Todd Blackledge and Michael Robinson, it will be McSorley’s name who comes up first and deservedly so. 

McSorley’s Penn State career didn’t have the story book ending most thought it would, though it will be the magic he displayed anytime he was on the field that he will be remembered most for. 
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