Penn State Clears Rutgers on Homecoming
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Trace McSorley led a strong offensive performance from Penn State in their victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 35-6.
Despite being held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season, Penn State’s offense amassed 304 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over. The Nittany Lions’ defense held Rutgers to only 200 total yards, only 43 of which came through the air.
“We were able to play a complete football game,” head coach James Franklin said. “We won the field-position battle, we won the turnover battle so it was a complete game.”
After a miscommunication on the opening kickoff Rutgers recovered the ball as it bounced strangely away from Saquon Barkley. The Scarlet Knights converted on the drive with a field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.
Two possessions later, Rutgers worked a 15-play, 57-yard drive and kicked another field goal, stretching their lead to 6-0.
From there, Trace McSorley single-handedly drove the Nittany Lions down the field with long passes to Mike Gesicki and Juwan Johnson. He then capped the drive off with a 20-yard touchdown run to give Penn State the lead.
“The guys really went out and did their job after the second quarter,” wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton said. “The offense woke up and we were able to do our job the rest of the day.”
Penn State stretched the lead to 14-6 with another touchdown right before the half on a 22-yard pass over the middle to Hamilton.
McSorley continued his success into the third quarter, driving his team down the field. After driving the ball down to the red zone, McSorley hit Hamilton cutting across the middle, who then flipped the ball to Barkley cutting underneath in the well-known hook and ladder play. Barkley raced forward and hurdled a Rutgers defender to get down to the 1 yard-line in his most explosive play of the day.
Penn State’s defense continued to hold Rutgers in check throughout the third and fourth quarter, not allowing a first down from the middle of the second quarter until the end of the fourth quarter.
“On that long drive they had, we missed a couple tackles but after that we just starting filling the gaps, running to the ball and gang tackling,” linebacker Brandon Smith said.
Smith started for the Nittany Lions and picked up 10 tackles on the game, behind only 11 from Jason Cabinda. Smith was starting in place of Manny Bowen, who did not play due to a violation of team rules.
“Jason has been tremendous in my entire career here. He is always leading us in tackles and tackles for loss,” Franklin said. “Smith is another veteran player that is very productive and one of the most respected players in our program both on and off the field, and he went out and played at a very high level today.”
Barkley added points late in the game with another touchdown run, however, the star back was limited for the most part throughout the game.
“(Barkley) is always upbeat,” wide receiver Juwan Johnson said. “He is still going to be that same person, trying to lift us up.”
Penn State will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers next weekend at Beaver Stadium on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.