For one day only, Penn State football returned to Beaver Stadium for the annual Blue-White game. An estimated 71,000 people filled the stands in Happy Valley to watch the inter-squad scrimmage to look at the future of Nittany Lion football. With most of the normal impact starters sitting out today’s game, a lot of the players on the back end of the roster got the chance to show out and compete for spots on next year’s team. The Blue squad dominated on both end’s of the ball Saturday, beating the White team 26-0.
How It Happened
Jake Zembiec started at quarterback for the white squad and went three-and-out in the first possession of the game. Curtis Cothran got a “sack” during the short drive
Trace McSorley took the field at the helm for the Blue squad. When faced with a fourth-and-one, Blue went for it — because why not in a glorified scrimmage? The gamble paid off when Mark Allen rushed for a 13-yard gain to keep Blue’s first drive alive.
The first Blue drive stalled out at the 25-yard line after an incompletion to Juwan Johnson. Tyler Davis came on to attempt a 43-yard field goal to put the first points on the board for either team.
Davis missed four consecutive attempts from a similar distance during the pre-game warmups, but he was true when it counted, giving Blue the 3-0 lead in the first quarter after his kick bounced off the left upright and in.
Early in the second quarter, McSorley tried to connect on a deep ball to Johnson, but was broken up by Ayron Monroe. After another long attempt, this time to DeAndre Thompkins, fell incomplete, the Blue team was forced to punt again.
McSorley dropped a dime down the sideline to Thompkins right over the outstretched hands of the defender, but Thompkins was unable to get one foot down in play making it incomplete.
Monroe redeemed himself for dropping an interception earlier in the game when he picked off McSorley inside the 10-yard line and nearly returned it for a touchdown— but an illegal block-in-the-back negated the run back and brought the ball back to White’s own 11.
Zembiec struggled during his time on the field in the first half. He could not connect with his receivers, finishing the half 2-8 for 14 yards and four consecutive three-and-outs. The White team also didn’t rush very well in the half, amassing a whole negative six yards on four attempts.
Blue had one more chance to put up points before the end of the half with 39 seconds remaining and the ball on 50. McSorley and Co. drove down to the four yard line before running out of time, forcing a field goal attempt. Davis came out and nailed a 24-yard field goal to give Blue a 6-0 heading into the locker room.
Tommy Stevens stepped onto the field for the Blue team to begin the second half trying to build his squad’s lead. His first pass was a completion to Thompkins that went for nine yards right after an Allen rush for 15 yards. The drive ended with a failed trick-play that saw Andre Robinson attempting a pass to Stevens that was picked off by T.J. Johnson.
Billy Fessler took over at QB for White to start the second half and immediately threw for a first down — the first for White on the day — on a 13-yard completion to Irvin Charles. However, the drive was short lived as White was forced to punt just four plays later.
Stevens continued to look comfortable in the pocket on his next drive — completing a bomb down the sideline to Thompkins for 50 yards taking it down to the White 26 yard line. Blue would finish the drive five plays later with a 9-yard touchdown completion to Robinson out in the flat from Stevens to extend its lead to 13-0 late in the third.
Blue’s following possession ended with another seven points when Stevens found Brandon Polk for a 31-yard touchdown after making an acrobatic catch that led him rolling into the end zone.
With time running down, Blue put up one more touchdown on the board when Stevens found Johnson in the end zone to give the Blue squad a 26-0 victory in the spring game. Thompkins led both teams in receiving with 84 yards on five receptions and Allen had a game-high 63 rushing yards on 10 attempts.
On the defensive side of the ball, Shareef Miler finished with two sacks for a game-high. Cam Brown, Jarvis Miller, and Jason Vranic all had seven total tackles for the Blue team to lead the day.
Player Of The Game
Tommy Stevens | Quarterback | Redshirt sophomore
The backup quarterback played the entire second for the Blue team and had an impressive day. The junior finished 17-24 for 216 passing yards to go along with three touchdowns. Stevens commanded the pocket well and made quality touch throws down the field to multiple receivers.
Penn State will be off for the next 133 days when it faces Akron in the 2017 regular season opener. At that time, it’ll be the beginning of the Nittany Lions’ journey to repeat as Big Ten Champions and contend for a College Football Playoff spot.