Game Grades: Penn State vs Indiana
Penn State scored 33 points in its win over Indiana Saturday. The offense was off to a slow start getting outscored 14-7 in the first quarter with its one touchdown coming on a one-yard rush from Miles Sanders. The offense picked up after establishing a solid running game when quarterback Trace McSorley broke free for a 44-yard gain. The play led to a trick play touchdown from Tommy Stevens to Pat Freiermuth. Penn State had a great day on the ground. In all, Trace McSorley had 19 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns while Sanders had 15 rushes for 72 yards and a touchdown. McSorley also threw for 220 yards and an interception but fell short of a throwing touchdown. This game marks the end of McSorley’s incredible 34 game streak with a passing touchdown. In the end, the Nittany Lions totaled 406 yards and had a solid display of offense.
Even though the Penn State defense gave up 28 points to the Hoosiers, it had a solid showing on Saturday. The most notable performance came from Shaka Toney, who had had six tackles along with an impressive four sacks. Toney came up big at the end of the game with a sack on Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey. The tackle leaders for Penn State included Yetur Gross-Matos, who had ten tackles along with Amani Oruwariye, who had nine. The Nittany Lions also forced three turnovers in the game. The first came on a forced fumble during the first drive of the second half that was recovered by Garrett Taylor. The second also came from a fumble forced by Jonathan Sutherland and recovered by Nick Scott, who added an interception later in the game. The interception came when the Nittany Lions held a comfortable 33-21 lead over Indiana early in the fourth quarter. Late in the fourth, however, the Hoosiers scored and recovered an onside kick giving them one last drive. That drive was shut down by a holding penalty and the force of Penn State defense to secure the win.
Special Teams: B-
Penn State’s special teams' performance might be the biggest takeaway from the game. The game began in style as speedster KJ Hamler returned the kick 56 yards setting up the Nittany Lions with great field position allowing them to score on their first drive. An additional outstanding return came from Johnathan Thomas who returned a kick 94 yards in the third quarter down to the five. McSorley ran the ball in a play later. A quarter after, Blake Gillikin was forced to punt but Penn State special teams came up big and forced a fumble when the score was 26-21. Trace rushed for a second touchdown following the fumble giving the Nittany Lions a 12-point lead. On another note, Penn State failed to recover an onside kick late in the game while the Nittany Lions were only up by one possession. The kicker for Penn State, Jake Pinegar went two for two on his field goals and made his extra points except for one. The Hoosiers were able to get through the line of Penn State and block one of Pinegar’s extra points. Still, Penn State’s special teams played a big part in their win against Indiana.
Coach James Franklin stuck to what he’s been doing most of the year in his win over Indiana. He established a balance rushing attack between McSorley and Sanders who each had double-digit carries and combined for 179 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. When his team went down seven in the first quarter, Franklin did not panic and grounded his team-leading to 13 unanswered points. The coaching staff of the Nittany Lions should be looking to focus on pulling away in games as number 19 in the nation Iowa approaches.
Joseph Muscente is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.