After slow start, Penn State comes alive in 55-10 victory over Rutgers
With the weather dropping into the low 30’s, Penn State's defense ignited the scoring attack.
The Nittany Lions took down Rutgers 55-10, and it was the first time since 1995 they scored more than 40 points against the Scarlet Knights.
Despite tallying 55 points, it wasn’t the offense responsible for all of the scoring.
The blue and white’s special teams unit opened the scoring with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from Nicholas Singleton.
Singleton's return tied the program’s longest kick return for the third time and was the seventh kick return touchdown in program history.
“ I must admit, the kickoff return was a thing of beauty,” James Franklin said. “We just invest so much time on special teams, so I was really happy for Stacy [Collins] and Eric Raisbeck, as well as our players obviously, to have some success on that.”
On the next play, the Scarlet Knights answered with a 53-yard kickoff return by Aron Cruickshank, giving them great field position on Penn State’s 30-yard line.
Rutgers capitalized on the return and took a 10-7 lead in the opening quarter.
Those 10 points were all that Rutgers scored on a frigid day in Piscataway as the Nittany Lions' defense pounced.
With the first quarter coming to a close, Marquis Wilson and Dominic DeLuca tackled tight end Johnny Langan, jarring the ball free.
Linebacker Kobe King picked up the loose ball and raced it into the end zone giving the Nittany Lions a 14-10 advantage.
Looking to extend its lead, the blue and white took over after forcing another stop, but its drive was short-lived as Singleton fumbled, giving Rutgers a prime opportunity to score from just 24 yards out.
However, Penn State’s defense stood its ground as it has for most of the season, and forced a field goal attempt that was missed.
A few drives later, cornerback Johnny Dixon intercepted Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and returned it for a touchdown.
The touchdown was called back after a penalty on Coziah Izzard, but the Nittany Lions still had possession in Scarlet Knight territory.
The offense found the scoreboard for the first time in the game with Sean Clifford connecting on a 10-yard pass to tight end Tyler Warren extending the lead to 21-10.
“It’s great. It helps the offense out. It makes the game easier to win,” Dixon said. “When the defense scores points, you got a higher chance of winning the game.”
The blue and white closed out the opening half strong, going 67 yards in just 59 seconds, capped off by a 14-yard Clifford rushing touchdown to put Penn State up 28-10.
Trailing by 18, Rutgers came out looking to attack, and that's what it did as Wimsatt hit wide receiver Sean Ryan for a 55-yard completion on the first play of the half.
The reception was the Scarlet Knights’ longest play of the game, but once again, they couldn’t find the endzone.
Penn State linebacker Curtis Jacobs destroyed Wimsatt and forced the ball loose, and safety Ji’Ayir Brown returned 70 yards for a touchdown to extend its lead to 35-10.
“That was definitely a big play in the game, a big momentum swing, and it really got us going in the second half,” Jacobs said.
After the second defensive touchdown of the game, the blue and white continued to pour it on with field goals from Jake Pinegar and Sander Sahaydak while Kaytron Allen and Drew tallied two rushing touchdowns.
Penn State cruised to a 55-10 victory and improved to 9-2 on the campaign.
Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.