Saquon Barkley’s Five-Touchdown Performance Highlights Loss To Pitt
Sophomore running back Saquon Barkley has been the author of countless breathtaking moments throughout his young Penn State career, but nothing can top his incredible showing Saturday in a tough 42-39 defeat on the road at Pitt.
Barkley battled through a stout Panther defensive front seven for 147 all-purpose yards (90 rushing) and five touchdowns despite the entire record-breaking crowd at Heinz Field knowing exactly where No. 26 was lined up at any given moment. Barkley tied Ki-Jana Carter (1994 vs. Michigan State), Lydell Mitchell (1971 vs. Maryland), and Shorty Miller (1913 vs. Carnegie Tech) for the second-most single-game touchdowns by a running back in the program’s 130-year history. Only Harry Robb, who scored six times against Gettysburg in 1917, ranks higher on the list.
The Nittany Lions got off to a slow start, to say the least, as they were staring a 28-7 deficit in the face after only 16 minutes and 22 seconds of football. But Penn State proved it wasn’t going to lie down — not this weekend, not ever. Barkley made spectacular plays look routine on his way to four more touchdowns, with one coming from 40 yards out on a wheel route toss from Trace McSorley.
“You never wanna be down, but we know if we’re down, there’s always a fight,” Barkley said following the loss. “We showed that we have that dog in us, so we’ve just gotta improve on that and become a better offense.”
Penn State pieced together a furious 32-14 finish but it wasn’t enough to bring home a signature victory in the first meeting between these bitter rivals since 2000. “Coach said it after the game; it depends how we take it,” Barkley said. “We can be upset, cry about it, let it affect us for the rest of the season, or we can grow [from] it and become a better team.”
Barkley and star Pitt running back James Conner, who inspired his team and the nation by beating Hodgskin’s lymphoma this offseason, shared a few poignant words at midfield after the game.
“Basically, it was just mutual respect for each other,” Barkley said. “That guy’s a dog, he’s a fighter. What he’s been through, what he’s still going through, and the way that he prevailed and just kept going, not many people would be able to do that. He’s a leader for all the running backs in the country, all young players in the country. Much respect to him.”
At only 19, Barkley plays — and speaks — with a maturity far beyond his years. In his first season talking with the media, the Coplay, Pa., native continues to show why he’s such a special talent and respected leader for the Nittany Lions, as expectations grow with each passing game. Bringing his team back from the depths of a three-score deficit to give it a shot to win on the last drive showcases exactly why so many scouts are salivating over his potential.
With six total touchdowns already in his back pocket through two games (he scored eight his freshman year), Barkley certainly has a chance to surpass Mitchell for the Penn State record of 26 in a season.