Penn State vs. Purdue score, takeaways: Sean Clifford throws game-winning TD after back-breaking pick six

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Penn State beat Purdue 35-31 in a thrilling season-opener Thursday that saw seven lead changes and Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford go through an entire career’s worth of emotion in one night. It looked as though Penn State would take control of the game early, as Clifford found Brenton Strange for a 67-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left before halftime to give the Nittany Lions a 21-10 lead. It was a lead that would not last long once the second half began.

The Boilermakers dominated the third quarter, putting together two touchdown drives and holding Penn State to 33 yards of offense to storm to a 24-21 lead. Penn State would take the lead back early in the fourth quarter when Clifford found KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 29-yard touchdown pass, but the game was far from over.

Two minutes later, after Purdue went three-and-out. Clifford sailed a pass well over target Mitchell Tinsley’s head and into the eager arms of Purdue’s Chris Jefferson. Jefferson took the ball 72 yards to the house to give Purdue the lead back, and it looked as if Penn State’s night was done. The Nittany Lions managed only 14 yards on their next two possessions and were forced to punt, but Purdue could not put the final nail in the coffin, which cost them.

Penn State got the ball one more time with 2:22 left to play, and the Nittany Lions put together an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 1:25, with Clifford throwing his fourth touchdown of the night, this time to KeyVone Lee, who scored from 12 yards out.

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