STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State 24, Illinois 17 (OT): Christian Hackenberg connected with Kyle Carter on a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass in the extra period and Ryan Keiser sealed the win with an interception on the ensuing possession as the host Nittany Lions survived a scare from the Illini.
Bill Belton set career highs with 36 carries and 201 yards while Allen Robinson finished with 11 receptions for 165 yards for Penn State (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten), which has won both of its conference games in overtime. Hackenberg threw for 240 yards and added a 9-yard TD run in the second quarter.
Spencer Harris, who entered the contest with 18 receptions and 158 yards, led Illinois (3-5, 0-4) with a career-high 10 catches for 81 yards. Nathan Scheelhaase went 33-of-52 for 321 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions as the Illini dropped their 18th consecutive Big Ten game.
Josh Ferguson's 8-yard score on a lateral from Scheelhaase closed the gap to 14-10 in the third quarter, and the Illini bolted ahead on a 7-yard screen pass from Scheelhaase to Ferguson with 5:30 left. Belton fumbled at the Illinois 1 on the next possession, but the Nittany Lions forced a three-and-out and Penn State tied the game at 17-17 on Sam Ficken's 35-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining.
Penn State drove to the Illinois 5 in overtime before a holding penalty left it with a third-and-11, but Hackenberg's strike to Carter down the middle of the field pushed the Nittany Lions in front. The Nittany Lions ended it on the next play as Keiser was able to collect a tipped pass in the end zone.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Penn State improved to 17-4 all-time against Illinois, including 8-1 in Happy Valley. … The last time the Illini held a fourth-quarter lead in Big Ten play prior to Saturday was against the Nittany Lions in 2011. … The Nittany Lions entered the game with a Big Ten-low 29 penalties through their first seven contests, but were flagged 11 times for 95 yards Saturday.