As the driving rain finally let up over Beaver Stadium, No. 6 Penn State steamrolled Akron 52-0 thanks in large part to Saquon Barkley’s extremely efficient day.
The star junior racked up 246 all-purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns on an overcast Saturday afternoon versus the Zips.
How It Happened
Penn State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. After forcing a quick Zips punt, Trace McSorley marched the Nittany Lions down the field into Akron’s red zone only to toss an untimely interception. They responded a minute later, though, as DeAndre Thompkins darted 61 yards down the sideline for the program’s first punt return touchdown since Derrick Williams at Wisconsin in 2008. He finished with 156 total yards.
Amani Oruwariye picked off his second career interception on Akron’s third drive, and Joe Moorhead’s offense took off from there. McSorley found Mike Gesicki for a 13-yard score before running one in from 4 yards out himself midway through the second quarter. Saquon Barkley’s would-be career long touchdown of 87 yards was called out of bounds near the goal line, but he cashed in the very next play as expected.
Barkley found the end zone again on a 30-yard burst with :23 seconds left before the half to give Penn State a comfortable 35-0 lead. After missing a 39-yarder in the second quarter, senior kicker Tyler Davis notched a career long from 47 yards to make it 38-Zip (see what we did, there?).
Gesicki’s second touchdown of the day from right on the doorstep extended Penn State’s vast cushion to 45-0 with 1:02 to go in the third quarter. The 6-foot-6 playmaker hauled in a game-high six catches for 58 yards in the easy victory. The Nittany Lions gradually rotated in their second-string unit for the rest of the game to keep the ones healthy.
In a neat bit of trickeration, Penn State lined up Tommy Stevens at running back alongside Trace McSorley, who gave him the ball on a jet sweep to the right before he found DaeSean Hamilton for a 7-yard gain. Stevens rumbled in from 5 yards out to make it 52-0 Nittany Lions with 10:20 left.
Moorhead’s high-powered attack finished with a staggering 569 yards of total offense to Akron’s 159. Manny Bowen, Jarvis Miller, and Tyrell Chavis led Penn State’s defense with five tackles each, while four teammates added four apiece. Also of note, true freshmen Lamont Wade, Tariq Castro-Fields, and Yetur Gross-Matos made their debuts.
“Today we were a first-half team. Now we’ve gotta get the second half fixed,” James Franklin said postgame.
Player Of The Game
Saquon Barkley | Junior | Running back
Barkley’s Heisman run is off to a strong start. On just 18 touches, he exhausted the Zips defense for 246 total yards and two touchdowns.
The Nittany Lions (1-0) host Pitt next Saturday at 3:30 on ABC.