Hamilton Has Record-Setting Day in Win over Indiana
The Nittany Lions cruised past Indiana 45-14 on Saturday to improve to 5-0 (2-0 Big Ten) on the season behind 28 first quarter points and a defense that forced four turnovers.
For the Penn State offense, it was not the prettiest of performances. Heisman trophy contender Saquon Barkley rushed for just 56 yards on 20 carries, while Penn State as a team rushed for only 39 yards. They also allowed five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and converted on just 6 of 18 third downs for the second week in a row.
A bright spot for the Nittany Lion offense was the fact they scored on three of four tries in the red zone on Saturday, an area where they struggled against Iowa last weekend.
When great teams struggle in one area they find other ways to win. Penn State did just that today, starting with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Barkley.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a better half of special teams in my 23 years of doing this” Franklin said. “That’s something we’ve worked really hard on and invested in since we’ve been here and we’re really starting to get some positive returns.”
Barkley finished with 205 all-purpose yards to add to his early season resume, and he even threw a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to DaeSean Hamilton.
“He’s a special, special player,” Jason Cabinda said. “He’s our do it all guy, and obviously we’re thankful for him and just really proud of what he’s able to do for us week in and week out.”
The Nittany Lions also took pressure off their offense early forcing two turnovers on Indiana’s first two possessions. The Nittany Lions would subsequently score off both turnovers, including one off of a botched punt fumble recovery for a touchdown by Nick Scott.
While Penn State struggled to establish anything on the ground, Trace McSorley completed 23 of 36 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns (one rush) despite being under duress all day from an athletic Indiana defensive front.
The big storyline from the win, however, was DaeSean Hamilton’s record-setting performance.
On Saturday, Hamilton became Penn State’s all-time career receptions leader, breaking Deon Butler’s previous record of 179 receptions. Hamilton went on to catch nine passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon.
“He is a great example for our younger players and just a great example in general…he just keeps working and grinding through it, and he’s had a great career” Franklin said.
While Hamilton maintains a humble attitude regarding his milestone, Franklin and Hamilton’s teammates can all agree the career mark was well deserved.
“There’s no guy on this team that’s a better leader, better player, and better role model for these guys. No guy deserves it more than him” McSorley said.
Despite being very close, Hamilton never really had the record on his mind on Saturday or at any point in the season thus far.
“After [my first] game I had no idea what to expect going on through the rest of my career. I just took it one game at a time and tried to play my best football every day,” Hamilton said.
A lot of talk has been made about who would be the guy to replace Chris Godwin as the Nittany Lions go-to receiver this year.
On Saturday it was Hamilton, but even he admits that it has not been a one-man task in replacing the Nittany Lions top receiver from a year ago.
“Nobody is really taking [Godwin’s] spot. We just have so many guys who are talented and can make plays, so it doesn’t really matter who the ball is going to; it’s gonna be in good hands either way,” Hamilton said.
Franklin has created a culture at Penn State to embrace this team first mentality, and Cabinda even went on to say that this contagious attitude is the team’s best quality, despite its abundance of big-time players.
So far it has carried them to their best start since 2008, but Franklin and his team believe that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“Obviously we have to get the field goal situation cleaned up; I’m not pleased with that at all. We gotta get the running game cleaned up…there are still some things that we have to be honest with ourselves and some things that we need to get cleaned up” Franklin said.
Penn State will take on upset-minded Northwestern for their second Big Ten road game and look to stay undefeated before returning for their bye week.
Will Desautelle is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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