Nittany Lions Bite Back At Injury Bug In 37-21 Win
Penn State needed a handful of players to step up following injuries to key starters in its convincing 37-21 win over San Diego State.
The Nittany Lions were without both starting safeties for the majority of Saturday’s contest as senior Jordan Lucas spent the game in street clothes with an undisclosed injury. Redshirt junior Malik Golden got the start instead and notched three tackles (one solo) against a predominantly run-based Aztecs attack.
Free safety Marcus Allen came off the field early in the first quarter after delivering one his signature big hits. However, the true sophomore wouldn’t return and classmate Troy Apke finished out the game in his place, recording three solo tackles.
While the injuries on defense certainly hurt, the fact that San Diego State quarterback Maxwell Smith was never going to torch the Nittany Lions’ secondary helped ease the transition. It was Charles Huff’s running backs, though, that were affected the most by a pair of in-game injuries to starter Akeel Lynch and true freshman phenom Saquon Barkley.
Lynch left Saturday’s contest towards the end of the half with an apparent left knee injury. The Toronto native was seen in sweats during the second half. It remains to be seen what Lynch’s availability will look like as the Nittany Lions prepare for next Saturday’s noon matchup with Army at home.
Barkley continued to enthrall fans by leading Penn State in rushing for the third-straight game, posting 62 yards on eight carries. Barkley added a 22-yard, highlight reel catch, spin, and run for the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter.
However, the Lehigh Valley product was relegated to the sideline following a second quarter ankle injury he sustained at the end of an electrifying 21-yard rush. Barkley tested it out in warm-ups before the second half, and stayed in uniform, but didn’t return. Barkley’s case looked more cautionary than anything, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on his status going forward.
With Lynch and Barkley on the sideline, Penn State leaned on redshirt freshmen Mark Allen and Nick Scott. Both backs made an impact in the win. Allen finished with 34 all-purpose yards, 13 of which came on a screen pass he converted into a full-extension touchdown to put Penn State out in front 20-14. Scott recorded 72 yards on three kickoff returns and rushed for nine more, but it was his 32-yard trick play strike to sophomore Chris Godwin that got Beaver Stadium rocking.
While he played the entirety of the game, Godwin left the field favoring his lower body after combining for an emphatic special teams stop alongside corner Christian Campbell. Godwin turned in yet another impressive performance, finishing with five receptions for 78 yards and a score.
All things considered, James Franklin’s Nittany Lions did an outstanding job of powering through some untimely injuries on their way to a stress-free win.