Penn State Blanks Georgia State for Second Shutout
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the second time this season, the Penn State Nittany Lions have shut out an opponent at home. Penn State defeated the Georgia State Panthers, 56-0, and improved to 3-0 on the year.
The Nittany Lions came to play in the Saturday night lights edition of their third consecutive home game, as eight different players scored a touchdown.
Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley, Tommy Stevens, Saeed Blacknall, Miles Sanders, Andre Robinson, Brandon Polk and DaeSean Hamilton all reached paydirt against the Panthers.
It was first time since 2008 that Penn State has scored 50 or more points in at least two regular season games. The 2008 Nittany Lions won the Big Ten and finished No. 8 overall in the AP rankings at the conclusion of their season.
Like the 2008 squad, the 2017 version is electric on offense and stingy on defense.
Not only did the defense post another goose egg on the scoreboard, they forced five turnovers, which included three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
One of those interceptions came from senior safety Marcus Allen, which was the first of his career, and returned for 50 yards. The Nittany Lions have only allowed one touchdown so far in 2017, showing the defense backs up its mentality with stellar play.
“We’re good, we’re definitely really good,” Allen said. “We still have a lot to work and we’re not going to stop. Hard work and dedication, that’s all it is.”
Offensively, McSorley and Barkley padded their Heisman resumes in Saturday’s contest.
The Virginia native finished the game with 18 completions on 23 attempts for 309 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also picked up 24 yards and a TD on the ground with his legs.
While Barkley was held in check in the running game, No. 26 exploded in the passing attack. Barkley led all Nittany Lions in receptions and receiving yards with four catches, 142 yards and one touchdown.
Barkley’s most magnificent play came in the first quarter on a check down route. Under duress, McSorley was able to evade the pressure and find a wide-open Barkley.
Then, the Whitehall native took the rock, weaved his way through the Georgia State defense and turned on the afterburners to speed past the defenders trying to tackle him from behind, scoring an 85-yard touchdown in the process.
Georgia State was an excellent opponent for backups and younger players to garner more experience and playing time before Penn State enters Big Ten play.
Head coach James Franklin began rotating the second and third stringers as early as the middle of the third quarter, and they contributed.
After taking a dump off pass to the house as a wide receiver in the first quarter, Stevens took over the signal calling duties in third.
Stevens delivered a 35-yard dime to Blacknall after standing in the pocket and absorbing a hit. Stevens has now passed for, rushed for and caught a touchdown in his collegiate career as a quarterback.
Defensively, the younger guys were very active, as well. Franklin was very proud of the underclassmen and their performance in the action.
Freshman corner Tariq Castro-Fields collected his first career interception, picking off Georgia State quarterback Conner Manning to set up the Stevens and Blacknall connection.
Other underclassmen who came up big for the Nittany Lions were causing havoc on the defensive line. Sophomore Daniel Joseph led the team in sacks with one and a half, while freshman end Yetur Gross-Matos recovered a fourth quarter fumble on a strip sack by Joseph.
Franklin and company believe that it is important to get everyone involved because the depth and experience are invaluable to the progress of the team.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt when you’re able to get guys a bunch of reps in the third quarter and not just the fourth quarter, it is really valuable,” Franklin said. “The more guys you have involved that you’re able to watch tape with on Sunday and grade their tape and grade their performance, it’s valuable.”
Penn State travels to Iowa for its first away game, and its second consecutive game under the lights next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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