Hook-and-lateral to Barkley one yard short
STATE COLLEGE — Highlights, lowlights, and in-betweens of Penn State’s game Saturday at Beaver Stadium, a 35-6 win over Rutgers.
PLAY OF THE GAME: A Saquon Barkley highlight that epitomized his struggles most of the day to make a big play. Trace McSorley completed a pass to DaeSean Hamilton, who lateraled it to Barkley, who was stopped at the Rutgers 1 in the third quarter after leaping over a Rutgers defender. Per NCAA statistical rules on this hook and lateral, McSorley was credited with a 14-yard completion. Hamilton was credited with a reception and minus-7 receiving yards to the spot where the lateral was caught, and Barkley was credited with no reception but 21 receiving yards since it was a passing play.
Barkley did score two plays later, walking it in through a hole for a 21-6 lead with six minutes left in the quarter.
Hamilton was a little surprised the play was called when it was, and Barkley was disappointed he didn’t score.
“You can’t get tackled on the one. You have to get that extra yard and it can haunt you,” said Barkley. “It’s something we have to focus on.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: McSorley led the Lions in rushing and passing, finishing with 44 yards rushing and a score on 13 carries, and completing 16 of 21 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jason Cabinda had a team-high 11 tackles and broke up a pass. He also stuffed a second-half fake punt run.
RUTGERS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Robert Martin led the Scarlet Knights with 71 yards on 11 rushes.
LEWISBURG: Brandon Smith started at weak side linebacker for Manny Bowen, who was not in uniform for violating team rules. Smith, who said he knew on Wednesday he’d start, finished with 10 tackles, four solo. It was the first start of the season and third of his career.
BEST RUN: McSorley’s 20-yard touchdown run up the middle on a fake to Barkley gave Penn State a 7-6 lead and it was the longest by either team.
WORST KICK: Three kickoffs sailed out of bounds, two by Penn State and one by Rutgers.
BEST CALL: The opening kickoff away from Saquon Barkley worked well enough for Rutgers to recover it, though the Scarlet Knights failed to produce more than a short field goal after gaining seven yards on the series.
HIDDEN STAT: Nine of Rutgers’ 12 drives failed to yield a first down.
TELLING STAT: Rutgers gained just 43 yards passing, the lowest total ever by a PSU Big Ten opponent, and never really tried to establish it, throwing 20 times with 39 rushes despite trailing the entire second half. Coach Chris Ash said it was a failure to find an open receiver when one was actually open. The Scarlet Knights were 0 for 4 passing on first downs and called 39 runs and 20 passes. Perhaps it was fitting play calling for the flagship university of New Jersey, the state that gave us “Born to Run.”
UNSUNG HERO: Juwan Johnson was a reliable chain-mover, catching 5 passes for 78 yards.
PERSONNEL: Running back Miles Sanders made his first career start.
MILESTONES: Kickoff temperature was 28 degrees. The coldest homecoming game dating to 1966 was Oct. 17, 2009 vs. Minnesota, when it was 37 and had snowed a foot… McSorley’s 26 straight games with a touchdown pass is second nationally to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. He also is responsible for 68 touchdowns running and throwing, a new school record… Barkley was held under 65 yards for a third straight game, the first time that’s happened in his career… Tyler Davis has 122 career extra-point kicks, a school record.
BEST QUOTE: Franklin noted he doesn’t discuss injuries, but did add that “everyone has their bumps and bruises at this point, and (Barkley) is no different.”
NEXT WEEK: Nebraska at Penn State, TBA. Rutgers at Indiana, TBA.